Monday, February 04, 2019

7 Ways To Encourage Children To Love & Care For Nature ♥

Nature is an incredibly important thing to me. Not only is it something which I have grown a huge passion for throughout my life, but it has also been a great saviour to me during my struggles with post natal depression and agoraphobia and I am forever thankful that I live in a place that allows me to embrace the seasons and witness the joy of nature each day.

A love of nature is something which I have encouraged within my boys ever since they were babies and I hope this love is something that stays with them throughout their lives. However, along with this love, I've also been teaching them how to care for nature and how to respect the world around us.

There are so many lovely ways to encourage children to love and care for nature and I'm sharing all the things I have done with my own boys and how I am raising little nature lovers.

1. Go on nature walks
This is an activity I have fond memories of from my own childhood. We used to go on nature walks out in the countryside to look at different trees, wild flowers, etc. There was a nature table in school where we were able to display all our nature themed things and it was something I loved learning about ever since I was a young child.

I love taking my boys on little nature walks in quiet country areas, woodlands and local gardens so that they can explore the nature around them at their own pace and get up close and personal with it all. You can almost always find us outside exploring the world around us!

2. Teach children how to care for wildlife
Another fond memory I have from my own childhood is feeding the birds and watching them fly in and out of the birdhouses in our back garden.

Beau especially loves birds and I'm teaching the boys how to feed the birds with seed mix and suet balls. They love getting involved and seeing the birds come for their 'meals' in our garden. Trago have released a great infographic detailing different types of birds and foods suitable for them, so take a look if you want to get your little ones helping to feed the birds.

You could always get the children involved in feeding other wildlife such as hedgehog visitors to your garden with tinned dog or cat food (not fish based).

3. Let them collect from nature
My boys love collecting things from our outings and I always let them bring home things that don't disturb nature, such as fallen sticks or leaves in woodland and shells, sea glass, stones and driftwood from the beach.

I let them keep their little collections in our garden in a wooden box and they love looking at them from time to time and remembering where they picked them up from.

4. Give friendly reminders
Sometimes the boys get an urge to pick flowers, etc. when we're out and about and I have to give them a gentle reminder to leave the growing things alone. As I've stated above, I don't mind them touching or bringing things home that have already fallen, but disturbing growing plants and flowers or animal habitats is a big no-no.

I always tell them that it's okay to look and be curious, but not okay to damage wildlife or nature in any way.

5. Get outside in all weathers
I always say we're not a fair-weather family and living in Ireland it would be impossible to be really! I always the wellies and outdoor gear ready to go in the rainy and occasionally snowy weather we have and keep a change of clothes in the car at all times for all the muddy adventures the boys find themselves on!

I think it's important for the boys to have outdoor time each day and thankfully they love being outside - whatever the weather!

6. Let them get dirty
I don't think my boys ever return home clean from our outdoor adventures and that's perfectly fine with me - we do have a washing machine and a bath after all! Part of getting children to love nature is to let them get down and dirty with it and to explore it to their hearts content.

Children learn through touch so let them dig in the dirt and sand, splash about in water and muddy puddles and run their fingers through grass and stoney beaches. It'll make them love nature even more when they're allowed to embrace it fully.

7. Embrace the seasons
No joke - I plan a lot of our lives and activities around the seasons. Each season brings a new place to explore, new colours, plants and flowers on the landscape and new things for children to learn about nature.

We pack up a picnic and make it a proper annual outing to visit the daffodils in bloom, the bluebell woods, the sunflower fields and the beautiful autumnal hued woodlands and I wouldn't have it any other way. These are times throughout the year that we really look forward to and we have the loveliest memories from these little seasonal themed outings of ours.

These are just some of the ways I encourage my children to love and care for nature. We also have many nature-themed books that I love to read to them.

How do you teach your children to love nature?


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