Benefits of Nature for Kids:
The sound of waves gushing to the shores, the chirps of birds waking you in the wilderness, the rising sun from behind the mountains and the pink-purple-orange hues of the setting sun amidst the greens, doesn’t all this entice us? Nature, woods, wildlife is something which gives a sense of calmness. Counting the stars, identifying the Mars and planets, tracing the constellations? Do you remember doing all this when we were kids? Are our kids doing nature-loving explorations today or are they completely immersed in the world of gadgets? Making kids love nature is something that needs to nurtured right when they are young.
Here is the importance of connecting with nature:
- It enhances the exploration and imaginative power of children
- Being close to nature allows children to love nature and wildlife and become more aware of their importance and value their presence in our lives.
- Nature ushers calmness and improves the attention span in kids. It also promotes experiential learning, rather than rote learnings.
- It induces Free Play, far away from the structured life happenings. It improves their creative skills.
- Being outdoors improves their vision, sensory skills, and has also been said to reduce Attention Deficit Disorders in children.
- It arouses a sense of love and gratitude in children, which they carry all through their lives.
Not just for kids, if you’re a Nature Lover, you would agree with the same for adults too.
How to get kids to love nature?
1. Nurture the “Nature Love” early :
Early minds are way too explorative than we parents think. Being a nature lover and Nature photographer myself, instilling this value in my son was inherent. I remember reading out the storybook “EMO and his plant” and then growing a small plant indoors with coco peat and seeds when he was less than 2years. Every day he used to water his peat and put it in sunlight. After about a week, his excitement was on cloud nine, when he saw a tiny sapling emerging out.
Starting early may not necessarily be growing a plant, but it has to be like a free play. Opt for more garden visits, leave them free, allow them to observe the beautiful flowers, different types of leaves, explore various insects and worms. Try telling them the names, their uses, color of flowers and so on. Try to go for nature walks and converse with kids about what all you see.
2. Love animals, Visit Sanctuaries, Botanical Gardens, National Parks :
Not just trees, help them love animals. I see most people instilling fear in kids for animals when they are small. This dog will bite you, get away from the animals, isn’t it? Instead, teach kids to love animals; they won’t ever harm you until you don’t harm them or take up their space or eventually hurt them in any way. It feels good to see kids fill water in the pots for birds to drink in summers. This builds up a sense of gratitude in kids.
Our family travels involve nature walks, trekking, and climbing hillocks, enjoying the water streams and capture the beauty of nature through our lens. Seeing the animals in the wild is something we are crazy about. When you explore a wildlife sanctuary, don’t expect Big Cat appearances always. Instead, enjoy the rustic natural setting of the forest. Varies trees, muddy passages, uneven landscape and paths, flowing streams, aren’t they charming?
3. Gardening :
Check out some fun Gardening activities for kids here.
Living in the metro, with much smaller spaces has left us with limited space for plants, trees, gardens. Gardening is a great way to help kids get closer to nature. The touch of soil, caring for the saplings, loving the fruits borne, setting up their plant markers, all makes Gardening a great activity for kids. In case of space crunch, try for the alternatives as hanging gardens, indoor plants, terrace garden, which can help kids be closer to nature.
4. Story Books :
Book reading, when clubbed with the practical visits, marks a huge difference to the child’s learning mind. Read books that talk about Nature, wildlife, their richness. Books are a great way to help them learn the need for conservation. And then allow their book knowledge to bloom with practical explorations. Buy some amazing colorful children books here :
- The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling (Graphic book, encouraging read)
- Island of the Blue Dolphins
- The Giving Tree
- The curious garden
- Recycling is Fun (My Little Planet)
- All the world
5. Crafts and Recycling
- Use old bottles to grow the saplings
- Promote kids to use tea bags as fertilizers for the soil, instead of throwing them away.
- Use the vegetable and fruit waste, skin as fertilizer
We add on to the tons of litter and burden our mother earth. Why not emphasize recycling small things? This will help kids conserve our environment right when they are young.
Arts and crafts are the best way to engage with kids, as it develops their creative skills and imaginations. Engage in Biodegradable crafts like door hangings /necklace with shells picked up from the beach, decor items made from coconut shells, pinecones (see our Pinecone spider and web), plant markers, and many more. This will help them connect with nature along with boosting up their creativity.
Check our DIY hanging Planters here
How are you bringing kids closer to nature?