Gone are the days when most children would get excited to go home from school because they can play outside again. Instead, they now look forward to being allowed to use their smartphones and other electronic devices the most, and call it “playtime.”
Not to be biased, mobile apps and games have some cognitive benefits, too. To name a few, watching age-appropriate educational videos help kids gain new knowledge about a certain topic and some games aid in developing problem-solving skills. However, no matter how much digital technology improves to benefit children, they can never have the same characteristics as nature.
Children’s lack of exposure to nature is so extreme that it began to be called “Nature Deficit Disorder.” If your children have also been struck with this condition, here’s how to help them engage with nature:
1. Live in a Community Close to Nature
If you plan on relocating in the near future, consider looking for beautiful homes for sale in a community surrounded by nature such as lakes, trees, and national parks. It would be easier to connect your children to nature when it’s just a few paces away from your abode. Let them breathe in the fresh air, touch some plants, and see wild animals freely roaming around. Be sure to stay close to them to ensure their safety.
Spending time outdoors is beneficial for adults, too. It gives us a mental break from all the stress at work, parenting, and housekeeping. Meanwhile, kids who regularly play outside can build more confidence because they feel more in control with their surroundings.
The unstructured style of play stimulates their imagination and creativity, as it lets them design their own activities and be inventive. Their sense of responsibility also develops, because they’d learn that there are more living things apart from humans and animals. They’d discover how plants live and die, and that would teach them basic lessons on raising plants.
2. Don’t Fuss About the Dirt
Some parents might be hindering their kids to play outside because of the dirt, but that’s not actually something to be worried about. (Unless, of course, they put a soiled finger in their mouth.) Just keep an eye on them as they jump on puddles, touch tree saps, and crawl on the grass. They might occasionally hunt for bugs and worms, too. These activities stimulate their senses and enrich their experiences.
Furthermore, interacting with nature will get kids more curious. They’d start to wonder how plants grow, what kind of creatures live on the ground. That said, don’t stop them from getting themselves dirty, because there are valuable lessons that come with it.
3. Play Outdoor Games
Hide-and-seek, follow the leader, and more, would surely excite your kids and make them look forward to outdoor play every day. These games will get them moving, something they may not do a lot when they’re just playing with their electronic devices on the couch. You can also take them out for a morning walk during weekends so you can get some cardio workout, too. Exercise is also found to especially benefit kids with ADHD, helping them improve their focus.
Extra Tip: Staying Safe Around Wildlife
Living close to nature also means frequent sightings and encounters with wildlife. Educate your kids about the animals around your area first before taking them outside. Teach them to avoid taking selfies with a wild animal, as it could bite. If there’s a swamp in the woods near your home, better avoid that place than risk your safety just to see an alligator.
Never feed wild animals, too. The most interaction you can make with them is to watch them from afar. Remember that nature is wildlife’s home, too, so we must co-exist with them in harmony, with our kids knowing the value of their lives and habitats.