With the future of our planet under greater threat than ever, it falls to us to ensure that our children – the next generation – have a respect and understanding for nature. But how do you foster a love for the great outdoors? How do you persuade your children to enjoy being outside more than gaming? Well, here are some ideas to do exactly that…
Show them while they’re young
One of the best things you can do to help children love being outdoors is to instill a passion for it while they’re young. So, as soon as they’re walking (or crawling, in fact!), spend time outdoors. Play in the grass, splash in the sea or simply let them squish mud between their little palms: getting familiar with the sensory aspect of the great outdoors is a great place to start. But, remember it’s never too late to get kids outdoors – even if they haven’t ‘grown up’ hanging out in your garden or local park, you can start cultivating an enthusiasm for it at any point.
Lead by example
Next, show how much you enjoy being outdoors. Leading by example like this is a powerful way to encourage children to spend time in nature, so make a point of getting out and about as much as you can. Reiterate how it feels good to walk, stretch your legs and breathe in lungfuls of fresh air. Gather bits and bobs on your travels (such as feathers, shells, pine cones, flowers, and pebbles) and encourage your children to do the same: it will keep them looking for little treasures everywhere they go.
Reward them with nature
You can teach kids to enjoy being outdoors if you make it part of their reward for good behavior. For instance, gently introduce rewards for good manners, completed chores or kindness with things like having a picnic in a field, exploring the woods after school, or barbecuing on the beach for dinner – yes, even on a weeknight! There’ll always be a place for an episode of Peppa Pig or half an hour on a games console, but making spending time outdoors a treat in its own right will ensure your children have a positive association with being outside.
Find fun activities to do
Next up, give some thought to introducing fun outdoor activities to your routine. Splashing in puddles on rainy days is always fun, and having regular camping holidays in the warmer months is an excellent way to help kids to feel connected to the great outdoors. For example, you could conquer family-friendly mountains in the Lake District or Snowdonia (or hills, if you prefer), or simply pitch a tent near the seaside in Cornwall – gobbling hot pasties while sitting in a camping chair that overlooks the sea is perhaps as wonderful as being outdoors gets!
Kit them out with the right clothing
Of course, you’re going to need to ensure you children are wearing clothes that are designed to keep them warm and dry if you’re going to get them spending much time in nature. Check out somewhere like https://www.muddypuddles.com for kids clothing that’s built for withstanding the great outdoors and the changing weather. That way, you’ll ensure your little ones stay outdoors without complaint, come rain or shine.
Read stories with nature themes
Finally, you can teach your kids to enjoy being outdoors by choosing bedtime stories that have nature themes at their center. Your children might enjoy the ‘First Book of Nature’ by Nicola Davies or Emily Gravett’s ‘Tidy’, as well as old classics that feature the great outdoors quite heavily, such as Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows or Beatrix Potter’s ‘Peter Rabbit’. You’ll find copies of all of these books online, but you can also order them to your local library.