Author: Austin Stanfel
Nature is a forgotten word these days. With the rising levels of pollution, both organic and technological in nature, children are increasingly distanced from nature and have no idea of its joys. For modern children, a hike or a nature walk is perceived as a tedious chore with no benefit – they immensely dislike the feeling of being cut-off technologically from their peers. Youngsters complain when they are forced to separate themselves from their electronic devices for a weeklong trip to the heart of nature. This is why immersing children in nature from a very young age is essential.
A study conducted by the US Census Bureau shows that almost 80% of the population lives in urbanized areas with a steady growth rate of .75% every year. This is compared to 50.5% of the population globally who live in urbanized areas – and you begin to see the problem. Wide-open spaces with lush greenery are a thing of the past – instead concretized neighborhoods, congested roads and a polluted atmosphere are what we have.
In the case of preserving the natural beauty of our globe – it falls to us to educate the future generation – our children, to appreciate nature and to take steps to conserve it. When children start valuing nature, they will develop the drive and passion for preserving it. This means that we need to begin creating natural experiences for our children that will help desensitize them and get them acquainted with nature. It is natural for children who have never been exposed to nature in their formative years to have an innate dislike for it.
You can start by having a family day out in the woods. Children love outdoor games and outings, especially with their families. Cool accessories like binoculars, treasure maps, collection boxes can take the excursion to the next level of fun. Organizing a treasure hunt takes a bit of pre-preparation, but can be immensely valuable in teaching your children to observe nature around them, and to be aware of it.
Another way to interest children in the environment is to incorporate nature in their daily activities and places that they use. For instance, if you are building out a lawn playground, it makes sense to do so using natural elements like trees and shrubbery to bring a bit of color and natural beauty to the playground. Most people get rid of natural elements in an attempt to create space, but this is counter-intuitive to the process.
Play combined with nature is a powerful tool to pique a child’s interest in nature. Conversely, in natural spaces like parks and forests, having some children’s play elements like swings and so forth incorporated into them, can make trail walks and hike much more interesting for the children. Combining this with some excellent photography and documentation will help the children in the future, remember the beauty of nature. And assist them in developing the drive to conserve and love nature for the rest of their lives.