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There’s increasing evidence to support what you probably already know in your heart. Nature is good for children. And, it is now seen by scientists as critical for every aspect of child development, from social skills to cognitive function and problem-solving.
When children connect with nature, they will become more environmentally conscious adults.
Even if you live in a high-rise apartment, there are lots of ways to encourage children to connect with nature. Here are some fun suggestions to get you started.
1. Discover the local park
Most cities and towns have green spaces, nature reserves, and parks. Some even have rivers or beaches. Get into the habit of visiting a few times a week. Take a ball to kick around and some snacks to keep the energy levels up.
You can make it educational by having a treasure hunt with a simple list of things to find like a tall tree, a red flower, or a pile of leaves. Or you can take a book about local birds and plants and identify which plants and creatures you might see.
2. Get a pet
Having a pet is great for kids’ emotional growth and teaches them about life cycles and the responsibilities of looking after a dependent creature.
If you have a garden, you can have rabbits or a dog, or even chickens. If you live in an apartment, you can build an aquarium or have a hamster or even an ant farm. And you can still get sea monkeys!
If having a pet is difficult, you can set up a bird bath or a bird feeder on a windowsill or balcony.
3. Grow plants
Kids love gardening, especially growing and tending their vegetables. You might have space for a vegetable plot, but you can also have a balcony or windowsill garden with pots of herbs and mini vegetables.
Growing sprouts takes barely any room and needs no outdoor space. You can also teach children about plants by growing carrot tops on wet cotton or watching a hyacinth bulb sprout in water.
4. Go hiking or camping
Take a break for the whole family and go right out into the great outdoors. There are plenty of options from adventure holidays with rafting, kayaking or abseiling, to bike rides, hiking or just a relaxing holiday at the beach.
Even if your kid seems to be addicted to their digital world, you can make connecting to the natural world lots of fun and something you can enjoy together.