“Go out, go out I beg of you
And taste the beauty of the wild.
Behold the miracle of the earth
With all the wonder of a child.”
- Edna Jaques
Modern day urban lifestyles, with its fast cars, glitzy malls and ever present technological gadgets leaves us with little time to connect to nature. Increasing congestion, reduction of open spaces and busier lifestyles are pushing us further away from nature than ever before. Research done by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows that children spend 6.5 hours a day with television, computers and video games. In fact, a child is six times more likely to play a video game today than ride a bike.
Concerned parents naturally want to bring their children closer to the environment. Not only is this needed to make children aware of the larger ecological system they are a part of, but also to make them sensitive to the environment and its needs. Besides, nature is important for a child’s social, intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual development.
The first place to bring nature back into your child’s life is your own home. Encourage your child to start a small gardening project in your backyard. If you don’t have a backyard, you can start a garden on your balcony. Life on the balcony has some easy step-by-step guides and lots of great ideas for small space gardening. Growing their own flowers, herbs and bonsai trees teaches children not only about the weather, soil, seeds, growth and photosynthesis but also instils in them patience and a nurturing attitude.
Crafts are also a wonderful way to bring your child closer to Mother Nature. Ask your children to make gifts from natural materials, instead of buying things commercially. They can weave baskets from leaves, make paintings from sand or necklaces from flowers. Wonderful gift ideas like these can be found on Quick Nature Crafts by Better Homes and Gardens and Nature Craft for Kids by Martha Stewart. Apart from gifts, they can also make fun toys and other day-to-day items from natural material. Free Kids Crafts has tons of ideas including paperweights, napkin rings and rock monsters. Natural crafts will enhance the child’s creativity and imagination apart from teaching spatial, construction and numerical skills.
Another easy step is to participate in your local community. There are bird watching groups, butterfly watching associations and nature clubs all over America. Through trips, presentations and fun contests they help people get involved with nature. Children and Nature, North American Butterfly Association and American Birding Association are great starting places for getting connected to like-minded people near you. By joining such groups, your child can pursue their particular interests in depth, gain expertise in a particular area of nature and also make lots of new friends. They can also pick up different skills like photography, writing and presentation as they get more involved in such groups.
By such simple, inexpensive ways, you can allow nature to reach your child. Gradually, you will find that not only is your child nurturing the environment but that nature is nurturing her.