Today’s Solutions: May 29, 2024

In today’s digital world, the pull of screens can be difficult to overcome, particularly for kids. However, the dangers of spending too much time indoors are serious. Carlene Fider, Ph.D., a core faculty member at Pacific Oaks College, emphasizes the importance of outdoor exploration for children’s overall development: “Encouraging children to explore and love the outdoors offers a myriad of benefits related to their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.”

According to Fider, outdoor activities such as running, climbing, and hiking encourage mobility and help to build important motor skills, coordination, and strength. Furthermore, spending time outdoors exposes children to natural light and fresh air, which improves mood, mental clarity, and overall well-being. “Nature’s calming effect reduces stress and anxiety, providing a sense of freedom and space for exploration,” she says.

The benefits of connecting with nature: more than just fun and games

Beyond physical health, outdoor activities have significant cognitive and emotional benefits. Fider focuses on how nature promotes creativity, resilience, and environmental consciousness. “The outdoors can stimulate creativity and imagination, encouraging children to invent games, stories, and adventures,” she explains. Outdoor activities also foster empathy and establish ideals of environmental stewardship, which are critical for addressing global issues such as climate change.

Being outdoors helps children connect with the natural world and enjoy life’s tiny wonders. “In today’s fast-paced, technology-driven society, the simplicity and beauty of nature provide children with opportunities to appreciate life’s small wonders, from the chirping of birds to the vibrant hues of a sunset, enriching their lives in profound ways,” says Fider.

How to foster a love of the outdoors
1. Model the behavior

Set a good example for others by showing how much you value nature. Simple activities, such as gardening or stargazing, can pique interest and create the groundwork for outside adventure. Fider goes on to say, “While some may be unable to go for hikes and long walks, activities like caring for a plant, gardening, and even stargazing may be good places to begin to spark an interest in being outdoors and engaging with nature.”

2. Make outdoor activities fun and engaging

Plan age-appropriate activities to make nature exploration fun. Make outdoor experiences more participatory and memorable by incorporating games, scavenger hunts, and natural crafts. Fider notes, “Where possible, plan outdoor activities that are enjoyable and age-appropriate. This may involve incorporating games, scavenger hunts (for stones, birds, or other things that exist in nature), or nature crafts to make outdoor adventures fun and interactive.”

3. Talk about nature

Encourage discussion about the natural world, even indoors. Use ordinary situations, such as automobile journeys, to explore seasonal changes, wildlife encounters, and environmental phenomena. These interactions can pique children’s interest and develop their connection to nature over time. Fider says you can “talk about what you can see out the window—the sun, the clouds, the birds, the trees, the sunset, the rain, a rainbow, etc.”

By applying these tactics, parents may instill in their children a lifelong love of the outdoors, as well as a sense of awe and stewardship for the environment around them. Let us work together to uncover nature’s charm and create lasting memories that instill a profound appreciation for the great outdoors!

 

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