Girl climbing treeDo you remember…

… playing outside for hours on end as a kid, only finally coming in as the last light of day started to fade? Maybe I’m romanticising my childhood, but I’m sure that was the norm back then.

It’s a different world today. Many kids don’t have the opportunity to freely explore the world around them and aren’t connecting with nature at the same level as we did.

There is concern for safety, as we don’t feel right letting kids out by themselves any more. And we simply don’t have time to supervise outdoor exploration for hours every day.

We all know that fresh air and exercise is good for us, but are there other positive benefits to spending time outside?

Child advocacy expert Richard Louv says yes. In his book Last Child in the Woods, he directly links a ‘nature deficit’ to disturbing childhood trends, such as rises in obesity, attention disorders and depression. His research shows that kids who are allowed to explore outdoors are socially and emotionally happier and healthier.

Looking at the leaves

So with that in mind, here are EarthKid’s suggestions of ways to connect your kid with nature.

  1. Go for picnics
  2. Have story time under the shade of a tree
  3. Plant it, grow it, eat it
  4. Go on a natural scavenger hunt
  5. Give your kids their own patch of dirt
  6. Rent a chook
  7. Claim a favourite tree
  8. Follow footprints in the sand
  9. Lay back and look for shapes in the clouds
  10. Go camping
  11. Run around in the rain
  12. Skim stones across water
  13. Search the night sky for shooting stars
  14. Create a worm farm
  15. Explore rock pools
  16. Go for a hike
  17. Splash through muddy puddles
  18. Fly a kite on a windy day
  19. Press flowers and leaves
  20. Roll down a really big hill
  21. Go beach combing
  22.  Make friends with an animal
  23. Make a grass trumpet
  24. Make a daisy chain
  25. Paint a rock
  26. Create an autumn leaf mobile
  27. Climb a tree
  28. Watch insects at work
  29. Build a gunyah, humpy, bivouac or den
  30. Go swimming in the sea, a lake or a river
  31. Slow down!

If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of connecting your kids with nature, the Child and Nature Network have lots of interesting research reports available for free download.

* Lots of thanks to Gemma Maclennan Photography for letting us include the beautiful black and white photographs in this blog