In today’s media savvy generation, children have a lot available to them at the tips of their fingers. However, the longer they keep their eyes and fingers glued to technology, the less time they spend enjoying the beauty and wonder of nature outdoors.
For a long time, research has confirmed that children who spend substantial amounts of time in nature from early in their life are generally more motivated to be outdoors as they grow older, and this inevitably yields many physical, mental and emotional benefits for them as adults.
Greater exposure to nature also enhances their creativity and ability to focus and concentrate. Plus, running around outdoors is the best way to stay fit and healthy from young.
See also: Top 5 places for outdoor learning
To know these facts is one thing, but to cultivate a nature-loving attitude and lifestyle in our children is a whole different ballgame.
Here are ways to encourage children to embrace and enjoy all that nature has to offer.
1. Embrace the wonder of nature
Children catch more than they are taught. Telling children to “go on, get out there and explore” will only go so far as they see you getting “out there” yourself! The best way to peak your children’s curiosity and wonder about nature is to be curious and wonder-ing about nature yourself. Take time to point out interesting leaves, bugs and flowers when you’re walking outdoors, make sandcastles together with them at the beach, pick up fallen leaves and twigs and bring them home to start your family’s own nature collection.
2. Make fun memories
Intentionally plan family activities and schedule routines that make nature a part of your everyday life in a fun way. For instance, Sunday afternoon picnics at your neighbourhood park, kite-flying at Marina Barrage, or looking for interesting leaves on the daily walk to and from school. If you have a balcony or garden, get your kids involved in caring for plants, or even give them their own plot of land or rack of plants to be in charge of. Some of these activities are ideal for many a science lesson on-the-go too!
3. Make nature-inspired art
Get creative with objects found in nature. Take sketch walks with your children, or bring home fallen treasures to craft with. Some suggestions here to jog your creativity: Leaf printing, pressed flowers, collecting a jar of saga seeds, story rocks, and painted twig mobiles.
4. Get offline on a regular basis
Schedule in times when no one is allowed to be plugged in to any sort of technology. Besides the obvious meal times when technology should be banned, consider having a stretch of time on a daily or weekly basis where everyone is hands-free and out of the house. It may be hard to institute such a habit at first, but persevere on and know that it’s worth it.
5. Go on an adventure “in the wild”
Step out of your comfort zone every once in a while, and do something adventurous in nature. One family I know has regular camping trips at East Coast Park – yes, they literally pitch a tent and “camp out” for a few days, mess tins and outdoor cooking included. When you’re planning holiday accommodations, check out farm-stay options instead of booking a hotel room.
See also: Wildlife sanctuaries to visit in Asia
By Dorothea Chow
This is part of The New Age Parents “How To Raise A Child” series.