Do you ever worry that your children don’t seem to love being outdoors as much as they should do? There’s so much to enjoy about nature, but in an age of gaming, virtual reality and relentless selfie-taking it can be hard to imagine how our children are ever going to appreciate the world outside their screens.
But, it’s certainly possible for children to enjoy technology and the modern world while also appreciating the great outdoors and the timeless cycle of nature. Here are five things you can do to encourage your kids to love it…
- Show no fear
Worms, spiders, creepy crawlies, mud, petting cows and saying hello to horses… it’s all part and parcel of loving the great outdoors, which is why it’s important you lead by example when it comes to interacting with nature. Don’t screech, screw your face up or refuse to touch something: your children will copy you, so get down in the mud and be prepared to make friends with animals and insects!
- Gather treasures
Kids love gathering ‘treasure’, so why not encourage them to view the things that the natural world provides as treasure? Rocks, flowers and feathers can all make beautiful treasures, so organise weekend ‘treasure hunts’ (i.e. walks in the woods), make a treasure box to keep things in, or even do arts and crafts projects using the treasures they’ve gathered.
- Prep them out for the great outdoors
Nature can be beautiful, but it can also be wet, cold and miserable if your kids aren’t wearing the proper clothing. So, make sure they have walking boots, wellies, rain coats, waterproof trousers, rucksacks, camping gear – basically everything that helps them to stay comfortable, warm, dry and blister-free. That’s the only way you’re going to have half a chance of getting them outside and staying there. You can find these bits and bobs somewhere like Muddy Puddles, and good quality items will serve as brilliant hand-me-downs to smaller children.
- Plant and forage for things to eat
The natural world provides us with so many tasty treats, so why not introduce your children to them so they learn that good food doesn’t just come from the supermarket? Grow strawberry and raspberry bushes, forage for apples, go fruit picking, ask them to pick you some herbs from the garden for dinner, and take them blackberry picking in autumn. These kinds of things strengthen associations between food, good tastes and textures, and the fact it all comes from nature.
- Give them a special section of the garden
Finally, if you’re lucky enough to have the space, give your kids a patch of garden of their own. Sure, they may just want to make mud pies in it, but that kind of ownership of outdoor space will encourage them to spend time outside come rain or shine. If you’re lucky they’ll fancy growing vegetables, which will be a fail-safe way to get them to eat their greens at the table!