Studies show that the first 14 years of a child’s life are the most important for establishing a good relationship with the environment. Children have a natural attraction to the outdoors and the animals. They are fascinated by them and eager to discover more.
Parents play a crucial role in helping their children connect with nature. We need to provide them with constant opportunities to engage with the natural environment, whether through play, hikes, rural holidays, or outdoor education.
Here are 4 ideas that will inspire a love of nature in your kids:
1. Set an example
Children learn more by imitation than by lecture. If they see you spend all your time with your nose buried in a phone, they’ll want to do the same. But if you show interest in the great outdoors, that will make them curious about exploring it as well. Take time out of your day to be outside. Speak positively and respectfully about nature and show your children how to protect it.
2. Let your kids explore, get dirty, and wet
Kids love to get dirty, play with sand, mud, and jump in puddles. Instead of forbidding them to get dirty, invest in dirt-proof kids’ clothing or keep an extra set of clothes in your backpack. Let them dig around the backyard or in the nearby forest where they can explore the different layers of the soil and discover earthworms and other creatures.
3. Invest more money into adventures and memories, instead of things
Children remember the time you spent with them more than the stuff you buy them. Quality family time can also be used to teach your kids about the world around them.
The best thing about exploring nature is that these activities don’t cost much. If you don’t have much money, you can still go hike, drive through a wilderness area, have a picnic, or even go to a park.
4. Teach them survival skills
Children need to know they can rely on their parents, but we can’t possibly be with them at all times. Outdoor activities can be the perfect setup to teach them some basic survival tips that can be useful if they get lost. Mastering those skills can be a lot of fun and a great way to connect to natural resources. Teach them to build a shelter, find water, start a fire, forage for food and use a compass and a map.
We don’t all have to be rangers or scientists to love and cherish the beauty of our natural world. What we need is to explore it to understand why protecting nature is critical to our future.
Giving children the opportunity to run with sticks and experience the sense of being a part of nature are the building blocks to an education that will benefit both them and our environment. After all, the future is in their hands!