4 Ways to Encourage Kids to Love the Outdoors
Do your kids love the outdoors and being outside? Unfortunately, these days it seems that TV, computers, smartphones and electronic gadgets are keeping children today from being exposed to the simple pleasures of exploring the outdoors. Today I’m talking about how to encourage kids to love the outdoors. In my opinion, children just do not spend enough time outside!
Plus, busy schedules and extra-curricular activities don’t leave kids with much time to play outside. Kids are missing out on a very essential part of childhood, connecting with nature. Lack of time outside is hurts their physical and mental health, as well as hampers their creativity.
One of my passions as a mom is encouraging my kids to spend as much time outside as possible on a daily basis. We don’t get outside every day, but we try. And we spend several hours every week enjoying the outdoors.
Of course my kids are older now, but we have always spent a great deal of time outside exploring, playing games, climbing, and hiking. And I love to encourage kids everywhere I go to get outside and find a love for the outdoors.
Outdoor Activities We Love
Some of my favorite activities to do with my girls are:
- searching for salamanders
- studying and observing nature
- horseback riding
- going to the lake
- taking walks
- going to the park
- visiting our local wild horses
Why Do Children Need to Connect with Nature?
- Spending time outside helps them create a sense of wonder that will carry over to many other areas of their life.
- Connecting with nature helps them engage all their senses.
- Schedules have become too structured. Children need an opportunity to explore and learn on their own.
- According to experts, the opportunity to explore nature helps them improve their attention span and learning ability, making them better students.
- Studies have shown that spending time outside helps to reduce symptoms of ADD.
- Spending time outside gives children the opportunity to get some fresh air and exercise, which is important to help them keep physically and mentally fit.
What Can You Do to Encourage Kids to Love the Outdoors?
There are several things parents can do to help their child develop a love for nature.
- Start young. If you love spending time outside, it will be easy for your child develop this love as well. Moms who don’t mind getting outside and even getting dirty with their kids will have kids who grow up with a sense of wonder about the natural world around them. Encourage them to study nature and play in the garden. Playing with leaves, flowers, and rocks will start to give them an appreciation of nature. Teach them the names of trees, birds, and other animals.
- Get them in the garden. A great way to encourage your child to love the outdoors is to get them helping you in the garden. Let them get dirty and dig in the dirt where they can discover different kinds of insects, worms, and other creatures. Teach them how to take care of the plants as they grow. This is a wonderful way for them to learn about nature first hand. Help them set up a bird or butterfly feeder in the garden so they can watch their new nature friends.
- Take them to National Parks. Take a family trip to a national park every year, either close by or plan a longer trip. Take a picnic and go on outings to parks around your city. Introduce your kids to the joys of hiking. Our family spends a lot of time at parks hiking, enjoying picnics, camping, and backpacking. National Parks offer so many great ways to spend time exploring and your children will learn something in the process. One of our favorite things to do at National Parks is participate in the Junior Ranger Program. The Junior Ranger Program is educational, gets kids excited about exploring the park, and is perfect for homeschoolers. We also purchased each of our kids a National Park Passport that they can get stamped each time we visit a new park.
- Limit screen time. And insist they go outside. Sometimes kids just need adults to be firm and I’m a big believer in getting kids outside and letting them use their imaginations. If your child is used to being in front of a screen for hours each day, you may find that when you first insist they turn in their devices and go outside that they struggle with coming up with things to do. But I promise you, left to figure it out on his own, your child will re-discover his imagination sooner than later. Childhood and imagination go hand in hand and it’s so important!
What are your favorite outdoor activities? And how do you encourage your child to play outside?
Books to Read
- Get Outside: The Kids Guide to Fun in the Great Outdoors
- Mud Kitchen in a Day: How to Quickly Get Your Kids Outside
- Let’s Go Outside! Outdoor Activities and Project to Get You and Your Kids Closer to Nature
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