Teach Your Child to Appreciate Nature
Childhood is a time full of wonder. As adults, we sometimes take for granted so much of the beauty in nature, but your innocent little one is in awe of the mystery of everything around her. Even tiny babies are naturally drawn to animals, flowers, sunshine and rain puddles. The beauty of nature to can have a calming and somewhat healing affect; children instinctively feel this and respond genuinely to nature and all its wonder.
Whether you live on a farm, in a suburb or in a big city, use these six tips to connect your child with the wonders of nature. You might even find that it restores your own spirit as well.
Make it a point to get your child outside every day no matter what the weather is like. Let her experience all kinds of weather and temperatures. Fresh air is essential to your child’s good mental and physical health. You will teach her that getting fresh air and going outside is important to do every day. This is a positive habit that she will hopefully carry with her throughout her life.
Let her get dirty. All the senses are developing in your child, and for those to develop, she has to experience them. Little ones instinctively want to touch everything around them. This is how they learn. You may know what the dirt in a garden feels like when you pick it up and it falls through your fingers, but your child doesn’t. Let her touch the earth, let her squish her feet in the mud after a rain, and let her feel the cool skin of the fish you bought from the market.
Point out things in nature, especially the sky and things far away. Your little one is often very focused on the world directly around her. Everything is new and exciting to her, and she may not think to look beyond her immediate environment. Point out the moon, the stars, the sun, the clouds, and the horizon far away in the distance. As for the small things, she may miss the bird or the flower when you’re walking through a concrete city, so direct her attention to these things. This will teach her that even when it appears there’s nothing natural around, if she looks there’s almost always something to see.
Make nature art projects
Encourage your child to do art projects that require things from nature. She can draw an animal, photograph a river, or press flowers into a book. These projects will teach her a sharp awareness of her natural surroundings as she seeks out the objects she wishes to use for her projects.
Help her plant a garden, visit a farm or pick fruit from an orchard. Nature isn’t just there to look at. Your little one will gain wisdom learning how to plant a seed, care for it, and watch it as it grows into a tomato or a flower. Let her visit a farm where she learns the delicate processes involved in growing an egg to the chicken she eats for dinner. Your child will learn to appreciate the bounty nature provides for us.
Teach respect for nature
Above all, teach her respect for nature. Native American cultures call our planet Mother Earth. You may not wish to adapt the terms of Native Americans, but the thought is the same: we cannot survive without the Earth and we must take care of it. When you’re outside in nature, teach your child the saying “take only memories, leave only footprints” in order to remind them not to remove plants or animals from their natural environments and not to leave behind trash. Respect also includes teaching them that nature isn’t always gentle; some animals are dangerous, some plants are poisonous, and some parts of nature are to be left alone.
Getting outside and appreciating the beauty and abundance nature has to offer will strengthen and vitalize your child’s heath and spirit. Take advantage of these sweet times when your precious little one is still full of innocence and wonder. You can only benefit from stopping to smell the roses along with your child, and maybe you’ll even be reminded of how miraculous the world can be.