Bringing Nature into Everyday Life: Simple Ways for Parents to Incorporate Nature in Children’s Daily Routines
In today’s fast-paced digital world, it’s more important than ever to help children maintain a strong connection with nature. Integrating nature into their daily routines not only provides numerous benefits for their physical and mental well-being but also fosters a lifelong appreciation for the natural world. In this article, we’ll explore simple ways for parents to incorporate nature into their children’s everyday lives, creating opportunities for exploration, learning, and connection with the natural environment.
Outdoor Breakfast or Mealtime
Start the day by taking breakfast or having a meal outdoors. Set up a small picnic in the backyard, on the balcony, or at a nearby park. This allows children to enjoy their meals surrounded by nature, breathing in fresh air, and observing the sights and sounds of the outdoors.
Share a nature-themed breakfast with your child, such as serving fruit and yogurt parfaits layered with berries and granola, resembling a mini forest. Encourage conversation about the different fruits and their origins.
Dr. Ming Kuo (2015), an expert in environmental psychology, suggests that spending time in nature, even for short periods, can have positive impacts on attention and well-being.
Nature Walks or Scavenger Hunts
Incorporate regular nature walks or scavenger hunts into your family’s routine. Take leisurely strolls through local parks, nature trails, or even your neighbourhood. Encourage children to observe and collect natural objects they find along the way, such as leaves, rocks, or pinecones.
Create a scavenger hunt checklist with items like a feather, a smooth pebble, a clover, or a tree with interesting bark. Encourage children to explore their surroundings and check off each item as they find it.
Nature-Inspired Crafts and Art Projects
Engage children in nature-inspired crafts and art projects to foster their creativity and connection with the natural world. Use natural materials such as leaves, flowers, or sticks to create collages, leaf rubbings, or nature-based paintings.
Collect fallen leaves and use them to create leaf prints or leaf animals by painting the leaves and pressing them onto paper. Encourage children to get creative and share their interpretations of nature through art.
Gardening and Plant Care
Encourage children to participate in gardening activities and take responsibility for caring for plants. Whether you have a backyard garden, a small balcony, or indoor plants, involving children in planting, watering, and observing the growth process cultivates a sense of connection with nature and instills a sense of responsibility.
Allocate a small patch in the garden or a designated spot for potted plants where children can plant and care for their own flowers, herbs, or vegetables. Involve them in tasks like watering, weeding, and observing plant growth.
A study published in the journal Children, Youth and Environments found that children who participate in gardening activities have increased environmental awareness, improved nutritional knowledge, and enhanced physical activity levels. (Wells, N. M., & Lekies, K. S. , 2006)
Nature-Inspired Storytelling and Reading
Incorporate nature-themed books and storytelling into your child’s daily reading routine. Choose books that highlight nature, wildlife, and environmental conservation to foster their understanding and appreciation for the natural world.
Set aside dedicated reading time and choose books that explore different ecosystems, animal habitats, or conservation efforts. After reading, engage in discussions about the book’s themes and encourage children to share their thoughts and reflections.
Dr. Richard Louv (2008), author of “Last Child in the Woods,” emphasizes the importance of connecting children with nature through literature, stating that nature-oriented books can inspire children to explore and care for the environment.
By integrating nature into children’s daily routines, parents can provide them with opportunities to connect with the natural world, fostering their physical, emotional, and cognitive development. From outdoor meals and nature walks to engaging in nature-inspired crafts and reading nature-themed books, these simple activities help instil a lifelong love and appreciation for nature in children.
Kuo, M. (2015). How might contact with nature promote human health? Promising mechanisms and a possible central pathway. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 1093.
Louv, R. (2008). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Algonquin Books.
Wells, N. M., & Lekies, K. S. (2006). Nature and the life course: Pathways from childhood nature experiences to adult environmentalism. Children, Youth and Environments, 16(1), 1-24.