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Education
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Leisure

Teach Your Child About Nature

Teaching your child about nature can ignite a life long love for the natural world. Children seem to have an inborn affinity for the growing things and creatures of the world. Teaching them how to carefully observe and care for the things found in nature will help them grow up respecting and valuing the world around them.

Bringing the wonders of nature into a child’s realm is easy. Even the busiest city has creeping, crawling creatures and things that bloom and bud. Venturing out to take a thoughtful look at the richness around us is part of our heritage as guardians of the natural world.

Preschool

Very young children do not have to be told how wonder-filled nature is. Their eyes follow the course of a butterfly with fascination. Watching a baby’s first encounter with a flower or a furry pet shows their great excitement!

Making sure your younger child takes frequent trips into the open air is important. Opportunities to touch green grass, watch a bird take off in flight and see how the wind carries leaves this way and that will activate your youngster’s natural curiosity.

Starting seeds in a pot or small garden and tending them can be a satisfying shared activity. Growing and then eating a few kinds of vegetables can be the beginning of understanding life cycles and the food chain that we are part of. Planting a tree together once a year is also fun and could become a family tradition.

Main points to address:

  • Take time often to be out-of-doors and to experience the natural world.
  • Start a small garden you can plant and tend together. Plant a tree.
  • Teach your child to observe and handle creatures carefully.

Grades K-3rd

Young school children need time in natural surroundings too. Watching your child run barefoot in the green grass or across a sandy beach will show you just how much pleasure they experience.

This age child loves being in the woods. Short hiking trips into the wild will produce life long memories of the sights, sounds, smells and sensations found there. Teaching children to carry out any containers or wrappers when they leave will set the stage for respecting natural habitats.

Kids this age are weather watchers. Keeping a weather and temperature chart and recording observations can help your child understand the rhythm of the seasons. Noticing what types of clouds precede certain weather events can be exciting.

Expanding your windowsill or backyard garden will give your child a chance to see that each plant has its own characteristics and that each grows at its own rate. Starting a compost heap to produce rich fertilizer can show the relatedness of all things and the positive impact humans can have on nature.

Main points to address:

  • Hands-on experience is the best way to connect with nature.
  • Make short hiking, fishing and swimming trips regular activities.
  • Learn how to start a compost heap and make a small flower or vegetable garden a fun family project.
  • Create a weather chart together and record daily conditions.

Grades 4-6th

Older children are ready for more extended times in nature. Camping out-of-doors or joining a scouting or nature club can help build a child’s appreciation for nature and the environment.

During outings, kids this age love to record what they see, hear and feel in nature. Providing a journal or notebook for notes and drawings will encourage your child’s bond with nature. Buying field guides of birds, reptiles and amphibians, insects, wildflowers and trees will make venturing out even more interesting as they are able to identify what they have observed in the wild.

This is an age when children become very conscious of our responsibility to the Earth. Involving kids in recycling, neighborhood cleanups or animal rescue shelters will foster a lifelong caring for nature and for the environment.

Main points to address:

  • Camping trips and involvement in scouting or similar clubs maintains a link with nature.
  • Provide a journal or notebook to record observations. Make field guides available (check out the library).
  • Involve the family in recycling, cleanups or animal rescue work.

Resources
Resources that can help you in your venture include:

Posted in Education.

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