Your deepest roots are in nature. No matter who you are, where you live, or what kind of life you lead, you remain irrevocably linked with the rest of creation. ~ Charles Cook
In a world where there is tremendous focus on material things, how do we increase children’s “awe” factor about the natural world?
Skip the frequent trips to the mall, and head to the great outdoors for fun and activities instead. Insist upon it as the parent. Teach your child to take notice of the spectrum of colors in the flames of an autumn bonfire. Next spring sit quietly with your family and listen to the crickets tone. Do it again as spring moves into summer and as that fades into fall. You will notice there is a difference in the tones of one of nature’s creatures.
Point out the milkweed pods in a field and the fluff that blows through the air when it dries and opens. Let your child experience the difference in taste between a just-picked tomato off the vine and a refrigerated one.
Visit the local farm to see where hens lay eggs, or to observe newborn lambs in the spring.
Take a group of children on a hike and bring along a wildflower guide or a bird book – see how many species you can identify.
Go on a scenic family bike ride or watch a fishing boat as it unloads the catch of the day.
Play outside on a snowy day with your family. Watch each crystal formation land on your gloves and examine how two snowflakes are alike – just like people.
Substitute digital playmates with neighborhood friends. Host baseball games at your place or invite kids to join in for some jump rope fun.
You may be met with rolls of the eyes and bored “uh-huhs” as you point out the beauty in nature, but with time your child will grow to appreciate the outings. As kids mature they begin to “get it” and share the wonders of the world with others who appreciate and value the same kinds of things.
Your family will also benefit from times of special togetherness. With the holidays coming up it is a good time to start changing habits and initiating new traditions and living through the process of discovery.
There is an eye-opening documentary film that addresses children’s nature deficit disorder. The value of outdoor play for children is significant, especially in the digital age when children spend far too much time indoors.
This blog is brought to you by the author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.