When you were young, do you remember playing outside? It might have been looking for a tree frog, wondering where the stars go during the day, or experiencing a butterfly drinking nectar from a spring flower. Is your child having moments like these?
The most important thing to remember when it comes to children and nature is to provide positive experiences. Early childhood is the time to plant the seed of wonder. Let kids explore and discover for themselves the magnificence of nature by making sure they have many opportunities to play outdoors. When they say “there’s nothing to do outside,” trust in the power of children’s growing curiosity and imaginations and send them outside! Giving the opportunity they will find ways to connect to the world around them. Your yard becomes an amazing classroom.
Parents can increase the impact of outdoor experiences by participating in the activities. As in any great classroom, there is a great teacher. Parents can play this role in their own backyard. Children are able to reach a higher level of discovery when their parent engages in the activity. By going outside with your child and initiating exploration, you are showing that you value your child’s interest, a critical component of positive self-esteem.
Nature is accessible to everyone. Weeds grow in sidewalk cracks, sunlight makes amazing shadows on the ground, and puddles of water grow and disappear. These things are waiting to be discovered.
Young children are born with the gift of curiosity and it comes in abundance. They approach life with wonder; questioning and exploring. Isn’t that skills that are possessed by the best scientist, doctors and teachers?
So what happens? If children are born with a sense of wonder, why do all adults not possess these skills? It is simply some have the opportunity to explore and discover and some do not. Those that do strengthen their skills just as baby strengthens his leg muscles as he begins to walk and it remains with them into adulthood; while those that do not become weak in wonder.
For more ideas on ways to get your child outdoors or to learn more about how you can make the most of your child’s developmental stages, contact Parents as Teachers at (910) 814-6050.