No matter how much today’s kids get the virtual exposure of anything and everything, it can never be compared to the hands-on experience of going outside and getting some dirt on the hands. There is a fierce debate that goes on about the possible side effects of excessive screen time taking over childhood these days. Apart from this excessive screen time manifesting in various developmental delays in children, the saddest thing is that the children these days are going far away from nature.
What pops up if you think back and reflect the most cherished memories of your childhood? If you were an outdoorsy person and had a childhood that made you closer to nature, you can probably look back at garden strolls, running and jumping in the playground, hiking and climbing the mountains, camping trips, etc. Skinned knees were the trademark of loving and exploring nature as it is. The freedom of scaling the dusty trails while stopping to smell the flowers is the best part of a healthy childhood.
Technology is probably the general answer to this question. However, with technology, there has been a shift in people’s social structure and overall lifestyle. The use of technology has affected not only the kids but also the adults. Long work hours and exhausting daily routine has left very little time for parents to plan outdoor activities daily.
This article indulges in explaining ways to encourage and promote outdoor activities in your kids. Read till the end, and you will surely get inspired by one or more ideas.
Activities That Help Teach the Kids to Love Outdoors
1. Spark Interest in Nature
Children tend to learn more via direct learning rather than vicarious learning. Start by introducing your kids to interesting books about nature. You can take the help of your local librarian in finding books that have engaging illustrations and tales about various environments, climates, and nature-related things.
You can also start teaching them the different species of trees, plants, and leaves they can easily spot outside. It sparks great interest in them when they can spot the same things they read about in real life. For younger children, you can plan short trips to the nearby park or a picnic spot near the valley. You can encourage them to start a rock collection so that they are immersed in the surroundings when they go out.
Work on enhancing the time your children spend in the backyard if you have one. Let them roam around, crawl, or have tummy time if they are too small. Installing little portable plastic slides is also a great idea.
2. Let Them Get Dirt on Their Hands
The best part about loving nature is that it is messy but healthy. Sure, your kids eating dirt is in no way healthy; but the fresh air, the raw grass, and the open environment are all good for their mental and physical well-being.
Buy a set of sand buckets and let them dig in. While you might be fretting and calculating the load of laundry you will be doing in the coming days, remember how this is all best for your kids.
3. Discover the Local Adventure Spots
This might be more suitable for older kids, but some daring parents start exploring and visiting adventure hotspots near them with kids as young as 2 years old. Bigger kids are ideal to take for outdoor adventures such as canoeing, camping, hiking, trekking, etc.
Go on the internet and read up all about the popular adventure spots near you. Plan a weekend trip with family or friends. This can be an amazing get-away for you, too – a break from the everyday work hassle. An overnight camping trip can do so much for you to unplug and soak in the serene surrounding.
Another most important point is to keep in mind that the kids tend to run more freely when outdoors. So, the next time you take them camping or hiking, and they are running wild, do not discourage them. Brief them beforehand about the activities you all can do together.
4. Overcome Obstacles Together
The road to making your children love the outdoor is not all easy. There might be numerous financial or logistic hurdles that prevent the families from becoming more outdoorsy than they usually are. Also, several parents are not outdoorsy and adventurous themselves – yet they want their kids to love the outdoors. It is okay. You have to overcome the obstacles together.
Include your children in your experiences, and learn as you go. You and your children, both, can fall in love with nature together. The key is to start slow. Unless you and your family have tons of outdoor activities already going on, the important thing is to not force it in a go. Your kids cannot just fall in love with nature right away. It takes time and a lot of adventurous learning together.
5. Make Like-Minded Friends
You can learn an awful lot from the families who are already into various outdoor adventure activities. You can join tons of online groups and platforms that have like-minded people as members so that you can learn from their experiences. You can even ask them to join you so that you have an experienced set of hands while you trot on your outdoor adventures.
6. Stick to Simplicity
Loving outdoors and making memories does not have to be heavy on your pocket. Bring simplicity to your adventures. A simple act of competing to throw little pebbles in the lake while walking alongside the open fields is enough to make your kids acclimate and fall in love with nature. Hand them some sticks and let them go explore the woods.
Experiencing nature with bare hands and absorbing every little intricate detail that makes this world beautiful is great for building up immunity. The sense of problem-solving develops significantly when young minds are free to explore. So, do not let financial reasons keep you away from exploring nature with your kids. Tune everything down to simplicity.
There is nothing better for kids to paint their hands with mud. This means that they have been in direct contact with nature – exploring the sand and observing little bugs. Playing with different textures such as sand, mud, fallen leaves, tree bark, branches, fallen feathers, etc., has proven to be immensely significant for your children’s sensory development. Watching sunsets and playing along the water are some of the most cherished memories your kids can make.
Plan short trips to the local parks and nature hotspots with your family. This is great for unplugging yourself from the work hassles and connecting with your loved ones. Discuss your children’s plans, talk about their imagination, elaborate on their dreams, and let nature take a toll on your mental well-being. The closer your children are to nature, the better their immunity, problem-solving skills, decision-making skills, response to danger, and observational skills will be.