Help Connect Kids to the Natural World
As humans, we have a long history of setting ourselves apart from the natural world. We build homes to protect ourselves from weather. We live in concrete jungles, far away from the obvious signs of nature (i.e., mountains, wildlife, etc.). We tend to see ourselves as not a part of the natural world; but we are, in fact, very much a part of it. How can we help our kids experience a connection to the natural world?
Explore the natural wonders right in our own backyards. Nature trails, city parks, lakes, rivers, and other setting provide opportunities for our kids to connect with nature. For example, we can take a book on plants and animals on our hike along a nature trail. See if our kids can identify the species that they see. Also see if they can identify how each species benefits another. (For example, plants serve as food for herbivorous animals. The feces from these animals serve as “food” for these plants.) Discuss the interconnectedness of all elements of nature. Ask the kids how they fit into this interconnectedness.
Take vacations to destinations that foster appreciation for the natural world. Explore the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Scuba dive off the Florida coastline. Explore a coral reef. Live like a cowboy in the old wild west at Fort Robinson, Nebraska.
Involve the kids in pro-environment activities. Speak often with the kids about “reduce-reuse-recycle”, recycle household waste, use reusable grocery bags, use non-aerosol hairspray, plant trees, plant flower and vegetable gardens, and join with others in pro-environment activities.
Involve the kids in pro-animal activities. Volunteer family time at an area animal shelter. Foster homeless pets. Feed birds or other wildlife (as permitted by law) in the back yard or elsewhere. Refuse to buy cosmetics and other products that have been tested on animals. Buy antifreeze that is animal-safe.
Enroll the kids in science classes (at school or a civic organization) that teach about and promote the interconnectedness of everything in the natural world.
Join nature clubs or clubs that get back to nature (i.e., Boy Scouts). Also belong to or hold memberships in community resources such as natural museums, wild zones, and state parks.
Each locale has its own resources and opportunities to connect kids to nature. The list above is a good start. Together, we can connect our kids to the natural world, even when we live in a concrete jungle.
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