These simple tips can help kids appreciate the beauty and majesty of the world outdoors.
- Parker Barry
During Earth Week, we read and talk a lot about taking care of our world and the environment. But before kids want to take care of it, they have to appreciate nature. Try these ideas to develop nature-loving kids.
- 1. Get them outside. Kids reap many benefits from playing outside, including an appreciation for nature. Sure, sometimes it’s hot outside, or cold, or rainy. Try to avoid describing the weather as “bad.” Instead explain to kids the benefits of the condition — the rain helps plants grow so we have food and shade; the wind blows seeds to spread them around so different plants and flowers and trees can grow. Let kids play outside in all kinds of weather (of course, not during lightning storms) by dressing them for the conditions — bundling up for cold; in rubber boots and rain coats for rain. Like the old Scandinavian saying says: There’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes
Try to avoid describing the weather as ‘bad.’
- 2. Bring nature inside. Kids love collecting bits of nature — sticks, rocks, cicada shells and more. Give kids a place to display their treasures. Some families have a seasonal display in their homes that kids can add to — a low table or shelf to display prized leaves collected in the fall or a pretty feather found on the ground in the spring. My girls each have a couple of empty egg cartons and glass jars that they use to display their treasures, which include an abundance of rocks, plus shed snake skins, perfect (though dead of natural causes) butterflies, and a hatched robin’s egg shell.
Give kids a place to display their treasures.
- 3. Talk the talk and walk the walk. Your kids are watching you — in everything you do. If you show respect for nature, they’ll mimic you. If you find nature scary (spiders and snakes) or gross (frogs and mud), kids are less likely to appreciate the value and beauty of those bits of nature. Try to suppress your “eeks” and “icks” and point out the contribution they make to nature. Thank the spider for helping control the insect population (and let your child relocate it to the outdoors if you’d prefer0.
Try to suppress your ‘eeks’ and ‘icks.’
- 4. Revel in the beauty. In our fast-paced, technology-driven lives, it’s easy to miss the magnificent beauty of nature around us. Take the time to just watch. Lie on your backs and stare at the clouds. Squat near a trail of ants and watch their busy work for a few minutes. Notice the sounds of birds or observe how the trees move with the breeze. On road trips, too, rather than turning on a movie or passing back a tablet right away, take a look at the changing landscapes along the roads and point out the beauty you see to your kids. Chances are they’ll soon see something they’re eager to point out to you, too.
Take the time to just watch.