How to Educate Kids About Nature:
Hiking for Kids
Hiking is one of the most popular outdoor activities and it is easy to see why. There are hiking trails everywhere, ranging from quite literally a walk in the park to more strenuous mountain treks. You of course want to take your child’s endurance and capabilities into account when planning a hiking trip.
In order to reap all the benefits of hiking, one must do more than focus on the exercise aspect. The reason that you would choose a hike over a treadmill is the environment. Therefore, take the time to make observations about your surroundings. Point out plants and animals to your kids. The more wildlife they see, the more excited they will get.
Do your research before you leave and be ready to share with your child the history of the area you’re hiking in or facts about the surrounding plants. What makes hiking exciting for kids is that they get to see things and have experiences that are not every day. These out-of-the-ordinary experiences offer a great chance to teach your children about the environment.
It is also important to teach your children the basics of hiking safety and courtesy. These tools will not only make the experience more enjoyable, but add to their common sense and skill set. Hiking gives you a great opportunity to talk about all sorts of subjects with your kids. Nothing is off limits in the great unknown. Use this educational experience as a bonding activity.
Birding For Children
While bird watching can be done anywhere (such as on a hike, hint hint), the easiest place to bird watch, especially when you have kids to lug around, is your backyard. By attracting wildlife to your home, you can teach your kids to have a personal relationship with nature.
The best thing about backyard birding is that every aspect of it is a learning experience. You can teach your kids what different birds eat, point out the different types of birds and their differences from each other, and tell them the habits of different birds. You can also draw comparisons between animals and humans in order to get them thinking about different behavior traits.
Watching the birds themselves will teach them about the tendencies of animals. They can also learn patience, as bird watching is a “quiet” activity, not one where they are running around and getting instant gratification.
There are a lot of practical lessons in bird watching. From sanitation, to keeping squirrels from the bird feed, your kids will learn basic problem solving skills in this activity. The greatest educational benefit is that of piqued curiosity. All that observation is sure to stir up some questions. In answering them, you can open up whole new worlds to your kids.
Gardening For Kids
As interactive as birding is, after the initial work, it is not a very hands-on activity. Though kids get excited to fill feeders, there is a much closer connection they can get with nature, and that is by working the earth itself.
Gardening is hard work, and little kids will tire quickly, but having them help you with little tasks and work their way up as they get older will teach them a lot about responsibility.
Gardening is practical learning in many ways. It is both economical and healthy. In today’s world, these are two things that your children should learn from an early age. Learning to take care of their bodies is an important part of growth. Learning to be frugal comes back to responsibility.
Caring for fruits, vegetables, and flowers also gives kids a sense of purpose. They learn a lot about the life cycle. Since plant placement is important, they also learn strategy. Even in weeding, they learn about plants.
Besides all of the practical applications, you can use gardening to teach your kids the science of how plants grow, the water cycle, and many other lessons. Hands-on learning is a great way to make things stay in their heads, so any lesson you can relate to the task at hand is great.
These are just a few ways you can make nature a bigger part of your children’s lives. There are many reasons that doing this is important, but the most important is that you are raising self-aware stewards of the earth, who are capable of their own thought and reasoning. All of these activities allow you to do this in fun, interactive ways that help build relationships as well.
Guest post by Ernie Allison who loves nature. More specifically, he loves birds and wants to teach others how to appreciate them, too. To help further this mission, he writes for the bird feeder provider, birdfeeders.com