Monday, January 20, 2014

Developing love of nature in next generation

“It is quite possible for today’s child to grow up without ever having taken a solitary walk beside a stream, or spent the hours we used to foraging for pine cones, leaves, feathers and rocks – treasures more precious than store-bought ones.” – Gary Paul Nabhan and Stephen Trimble, “The Geography of Childhood”

Today, most children are likely to spend their days playing video games, texting one another, and spending time out of the house inside a mall. For parents who want to enjoy the outdoors – hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, rock climbing, camping – the question isn’t how to get their children into the wilds (That’s easy enough, just take them.), but how to get them to develop a love for nature.

Without such passion for the natural world, children aren’t likely to inherit a parents’ love of the outdoors, to understand the natural world, to enjoy the many mental and physical benefits of being outdoors, or to become stewards of the environment when they grow up.

Indeed, some child psychologists even fear that many of today’s kids suffer from biophobia or ecophobia, which is a fear of the outdoors.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to develop a child’s love of the natural world:
• Experience a variety of cool places outdoors – A simple walk through the woods might not be able to compete with the latest version of DeathKill 3000 – but scrambling over boulders, hiking to a waterfall, spotting interesting wildlife, even ambling alongside a stream, almost always will win hands down.
• Leave technology behind – No headphones attached to music, no cell phones, no iPads are allowed on a hike. One cannot truly hear or see the natural world unless they become immersed in it. Don’t be surprised if tech-dependent kids at first find nature’s quietness deafening.
• Teach them about nature through games and activities – Make learning and the experience of being outdoors fun. There are plenty of games and activities that can develop kids’ various cognitive skills, help them understand the natural world, and leave a lot of positive memories.
• Interact with them – Beyond than walking in nature, this strategy has absolutely nothing to do with nature. However, when children and parents bond through talking with one another, both will associate nature with happy times. This technique may be the most powerful way of getting kids to develop a love of nature.

Related article:
What to do if your child is afraid of the outdoors

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