When you ask
a group of adults to share some of their favorite childhood memories, very
often the answers will involve time spent outdoors. At a recent staff meeting,
we did just that and teachers shared great stories about camping trips, fishing
in small streams, playing with sticks and mud, and laying in the grass to watch
clouds, among other things. Just hearing about the remembered positive
experiences created a relaxing and uplifting mood for all of us.
So what will
our children (and grandchildren} say? Are we giving them opportunities for the
same kind of relaxing time in nature that we all remember so fondly? In too
many cases, we are probably falling short of what we would like to say. So many
families find themselves with very busy and very structured lives that don’t
include enough outdoor time.
How can we
help children reconnect with nature? It might be easier than you think.
Following are some simple suggestions. Start small and make it a point to add
more experiences as you go.
family outdoor experiences like after dinner walks, picnics, or trips to parks
your child with outdoor toys like butterfly nets, binoculars, bug catchers,
sand boxes and sand toys, kites, etc.Take
your books outside! Create a family outdoor reading area. Start
some simple gardening.Dress
your children for the weather so they can enjoy being outside in all four
outside after dark and look for stars, fireflies, or the moon.Bring
some nature inside. Decorate with plants, seashells, driftwood, and interesting
relaxing “nature sound” music in your home to set a peaceful tone.Watch
for outdoor events like concerts, craft fairs, food events, or charity walks.Eat
outside when you can!Help
your child notice their surroundings – trees that are budding, birds in the
trees, cloud formations, etc.
thing you can do to encourage a reconnection with nature is to reconnect