What Can Kids Learn from Nature? Everything. So how do you motivate your little couch potato to get out there and have fun?
Earth Day is coming to remind us how important it is to teach our children to respect the world we live in. Kids today are spending less and less time outside engaging in unstructured play time. There are serious benefits that kids get from spending time outdoors.
Studies show that kids who play outdoors are more confident, physically fit, and less stressed by daily life. Nature has a calming effect on kids. Outdoorsy types also tend to think more creatively and positively. So how do you motivate your little couch potato to get out there and have fun? Below are some tips to help get your child into the great outdoors.
What Can Kids Learn From Nature & How To Get Them Outside
1.) Get them started.
At first, it might seem boring to your kids to play outside, especially if they are not used to it. Tell them about things that you enjoyed doing outside as a kid. Make suggestions like looking under rocks for bugs, building a fort out of lawn chairs and beach towels or making a dirt road for their matchbox cars. Try to give them a little independence by not watching everything they do. It’s ok if they argue a little or don’t seem to be having fun. Let them work it out. It may take a few times before they start to actually play.
2.) Don’t take no for an answer.
When I was a kid, most moms I knew told their kids to go outside and play whether they wanted to or not. It seemed strict at the time, but looking back it was the best thing parents did for their kids. If you give your kids a choice as to whether or not they want to go outside and play, they might choose to stay inside to watch tv or play a video game. Forcing them to go out will show them that the outdoors can be fun. Try to avoid entertaining them outside with a game or activity. Kids need to feel bored to get their creativity going.
3.) The dirtier, the better.
Put on their play clothes and let them get dirty. It’s ok to let your kids make mud pies, roll down grassy hills or hide under a pile of leaves. Childhood is meant to be messy. Kids connect with nature by feeling the world around them. Try not to discourage being messy outside. Not only are they learning, but getting dirty can be really fun. Also remember that scraped knees, bumps, and bruises are part of growing up. Let them take reasonable risks by climbing and running around.
4.) Make it a neighborhood affair.
I remember being a kid and having every kid on the block out into the street for a game of kickball. I rarely see groups of kids playing on my block as an adult. Let your kids knock on a neighbor’s door to ask for an outdoor play date. Try to avoid texting the moms yourself. Kids need practice speaking to adults and this is a perfect opportunity for your child to take charge. Don’t worry if your neighbors are not your children’s best friends. Kids learn a lot by playing with children of all different ages and with all different interests. Neighborhood kids are the perfect way to learn to play with others. It is great to let the kids play in different backyards as long as you know where they are and have the consent of all parents. The kids feel like they have choices and independence and you get a little time to yourself.
5.) Plan outdoor family activities
Check out outdoor activities in your neighborhood. Take a walk in the woods with your kids. Ride your bikes to church or picnic in a local park. The more your kids see you outside, the more likely they will be to follow in your footsteps. It’s not just kids who benefit from being in nature. Walk barefoot in the grass, plant a garden and enjoy the outdoors together.
Most of my favorite childhood memories are of long days playing outside with my siblings and friends. Help your kids build these memories and a love of the world around them.
Happy Earth Day!
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