Introducing Children to Nature and Outdoor Play
You must have seen the famous movie Baby’s Day Out. It is the prime example of how kids are influenced by what they read, see, and what they are exposed to. If you want your child to be aware of what is around them, whether natural scenery or art and culture, it is from a very early age that you can start with the training. The thing that needs to be remembered is this, the training or introduction should be such that kids become interested in it and want to pursue it, not get deterred from it.
The thing about nature is that it is beneficial for both the physical and emotional health of people. In terms of physical health, people who have spent more time outdoors are not only fit, they also have a better life quality. They are not as affected by sickness nor are they likely to get into any kind of habit that disrupts lifestyle. In case of children, they get to experience physical activities instead of continuing to sit in the house all day playing video games, hanging on social media and eating snacks in front of TV. When outside, they get to breathe in the fresh air and socialize with other children.
When it comes to psychological health, research shows that playing outside is a form of therapy for children because it lets them spend time away from sources of stress and anxiety. They get to experience open spaces and natural habitats that are good for the mind and the heart. This way feelings of mental exhaustion/exertion that is acquired from daily life is considerably reduced, leaving the child feeling refreshed and liberated.
How to Introduce Nature in Your Children’s Life
The first thing to understand is the fact that if it is at 15 that you try to take your child outdoors and experience nature, then they will most certainly be neither interested nor inclined to want to become a part of such plans. This is why, if you want to induce the love of nature in your children you will need to start early, when they are toddlers. From the time your child is 6 months, take them to parks and other natural habitats. Let them familiarize with the flora and fauna so they gain some interest.
As your children continue to grow, get them involved in natural activities like going on bike rides, trekking, hiking, swimming in the ponds/lakes/ocean, going to nature resorts, wildlife reserves and other such places. This way, they will continue to take an interest in what nature is all about.
Let’s take an example. Your child is 5 and you decide to take them to the local woods that contain a pond and lots of tress. Since it’s not far from your place, taking the kids there is easy and a fun activity. Instead of deciding on what it is they should do, or letting them play with the iPad, tell them to explore the woods. They will find insects and stones, wood and flowers that is going to captivate their attention. Don’t restrict them or scare them from snakes, just stay with them to ensure their safety. Other than that let them explore and have fun. They will want to return if they enjoy the trip.
Books, Videos and Movies
Another easy and fun way to get your children into nature is to expose them to books, videos and movies about nature. You can show them programs on National Geographic Channel or other Nature channels that explain different forms of nature, be they in the form of animal life or plant life. This too will let them acquire a taste for things that are aside from technology and the business of today’s lifestyle. Movies and books likewise will help in developing children’s interest in how things grow and flourish. They too will want to experience nature at first hand.
Creating Your Own Garden
One of the best ways to get children involved with nature is to allow them to learn about gardening. They can have their own vegetable or flower patch. Start small by bringing them a pot of local flowers. Tell them to make sure that the plant does not only survive but also grow. Once they engrossed in the task, let them have their very own garden. This can be either vegetable/fruit garden or flower garden depending on what they like more.
You can a lot them a square of land in your back or front yard. If you do not have that kind of space, let them have the gallery area where they can keep their plant pots. You will be surprised by how soon the children turn onto little gardeners who love taking care of their plants. Make sure you let them figure out how best to keep the arrangement. Of course you will need to guide from time to time or help them plant and water if the children are too little.
The Need to Understand About Environment
What with the worsening conditions of the environment, it has become essential that children take an interest in nature and its preservation? This will only be possible when they are made aware about the importance of not cutting trees, saving natural habitats, plants and animal life. The sooner you expose your children to nature, the more their love for it will grow and they will consciously want to make an effort in keeping it secure from harmful effects.
Remember, our children are the future and unless they realize the significance of environmental damage, there is no guarantees of a better tomorrow. This is the reason why it becomes must to help them understand the beauty and importance of nature. And hence the reason why love for nature should be developed from an early age.
So take out your child outside today. Let them find pleasure in nature so that in the future they work to keep it safe and healthy.
© Teresa Boardman, Nanny Options.
Browse other Parenting Guide articles from Nanny Options
or keep up to date with us on Facebook.