An appreciation for the outdoors can lead to a life full of varied experience and understanding about the wonderful planet we live on. Kids that have a curiosity about nature cultivated in them are more likely to live rich and fulfilling lives. It’s well-known that exposure to nature can lead to greater happiness.
Not only is it important for us as parents to cultivate a love and understanding of the natural world in our kids, it’s imperative for the future of the planet. Environmental issues are becoming increasingly important and will only continue to become more so as our kids become adults. People who grow up having the outdoors as a part of their life are more likely to care about the environment and seek solutions to environmental concerns in the future. So how can we get our kids to go outside and experience all that the world has to offer?
It’s never too early for children to experience the outdoors. While family camping trips can be ideal, an appreciation for nature can start in your own neighborhood. If you live in a rural setting, go for walks with your kids and let them explore their surroundings. When going on these excursions it isn’t necessary to have an end goal in mind. Just get out there and explore. For kids, it’s about the journey, not the destination.
If you live in an urban area, take your kids to the park often. You can also allow little kids to roam around your backyard with supervision, but minimal interference. Children are naturally curious and everything is new to them. Let them outside to investigate their world.
Use Technology as Part of the Experience
It’s no secret that technology has become a big part of our daily lives. Children growing up today often have a smartphone in their pocket and an assortment of televisions, gaming systems, tablets and computers at home. Depending on the child, it can be difficult to get them away from their devices and make them excited about taking a trip outdoors.
While it’s important that a child sees the world with their own eyes instead of through a smartphone, these same devices can be used to help facilitate a kid’s interest in going outside. There are many smartphone apps that encourage interaction with nature. These range from educational apps that promote animal, plant and star identification, to games that encourage interaction with an outdoor setting. If you find that your child has a lack of interest in going outside, start by trying some of these apps out with them. You may find that their enthusiasm increases as they gain more outdoor experience.
Take Outdoor Vacations
Whether you take your family on vacation to another country or just have time to take a short camping trip somewhere near where you live, it’s important to create memorable experiences outside with your kids. Be proactive with them and encourage questions and curiosity about the outdoors. There are so many recreational activities you can do outside with your kids. Fishing, cycling, swimming, hiking, and cooking treats on a campfire are just a few of the things you can do with them. Find out what types of activities your child seems most interested in and plan accordingly.
The Importance of Pressure-Free Encouragement
The key to getting your child to enjoy the outdoors lies with them making the decision on their own. As a parent, it’s important to guide the child without forcing them to do things which may create resentment. This method of raising a child is sometimes referred to as free-range parenting. With this style of parenting the child is free to make their own decisions as long as nobody gets hurt. The amount of freedom given is up to the discretion of the parent and the child’s individual needs.
As a parent trying to get your child to experience the outdoors, this means providing them with guidance on why it’s fun to be outside and experience the world they’re a part of. A child who has grown up with this freedom to appreciate the outdoors of their own accord is more likely to be a prosperous member of society and care about the future of the environment.