On average, modern children (and adults) are spending less time outside than many prison inmates. This is not only shocking but could spell big future problems for both individuals and the planet as a whole. With fewer and fewer people taking an interest in nature and most of us getting far too little sunlight, fresh air and exercise, our physical and mental health is at risk. But with so much technology and indoor entertainment to keep them busy, how do modern parents ensure their child grows up with an appreciation for nature? Here are some tips to help you get your children interested in the outdoors and the natural environment.
Let them help in the garden
We don’t have to go far to experience nature. Whether you live in a flat and can only have a windowsill box or some plants on the balcony or you have your own garden, you can involve the children in caring for nature. Let them choose what they would like to grow and teach them about how to care for plants, herbs, and vegetables. When they are old enough, give them the responsibility of watering them and they’ll be more likely to appreciate the care and attention our planet needs in order to thrive.
Make your garden a haven for wildlife
Wildlife, birds, and insects are often what attract children to nature so do what you can to make your outside space a place where they want to visit. Plant flowers for bees and butterflies, build a bird box or a birdbath, a squirrel or bird feeder and create a pond for fish, frogs and other water creatures. For help with creating the right pond for your garden, visit Water-garden.co.uk so that you have everything you need to get going.
Go on family camping trips
To get the kids outside and away from technology for an extended period of time, you can’t beat a family camping trip. They will quickly learn that the natural world is more interesting than any computer game or film. Stargazing with children, for example, is a wonderful way to bond and help them to understand the scale of our universe. If camping is a bit too far, consider glamping, which enables you to get back to nature while still maintaining some modern comforts like running hot water.
Some farms are letting out cabins or lodges on their property to give people the opportunity to live on a farm for a short period so they can see how animals are cared for and where our food comes from.
Hike through nature
Regular walks through parks, woodland, fields, natural beaches and mountain paths is a fantastic way to build stamina and curiosity in children. Choose an age-appropriate route, pack up your supplies and head out on an adventure. Let your children explore the world at their own pace. Take a camera along with you and let them take photos of what they find interesting so they can create a collection when they get home and you can talk about what you’ve seen.
Plan adventure activities
If your child finds a passion for an outdoor activity at an early age, they are more likely to find pleasure in the outdoors as an adult. Give them the chance to try activities like rock climbing, sailing, horse riding, or cycling and see what ignites their interest.