Deepen your connection to nature
Today’s task is to deepen your connection with nature. The best way to teach your child about nature is to simply spend time outdoors every day. This has so many benefits, including inspiring your child’s creative play, promoting movement and physical activity, healthy sensory development, burning off steam and helping everyone to relax and be in a good mood, setting the scene for science-nature lessons in the early grades, preventing “nature deficit disorder,” and giving your child a chance to fall in love with a place in the world.
If you want your child to grow up with a healthy sense of respect and awe for Mother Nature and all of the resources she provides for us then the best way to do that is to let your child fall in love with her! A direct experience of being in nature is so much more valuable than any other kind of science or nature education at this age. Like any relationship, that connection forms over time.
How to deepen your connection to nature:
1. Find a special place (or two or three) to visit regularly with your child. It could be a nearby nature preserve, hiking trail, botanical garden, pond, river, large city park, or state park that you can visit in every season. Your backyard or local park count too! For a very young child, getting to know one place very well and being there throughout the year is so much more meaningful than going on new adventures all the time. This is how a real relationship is formed.
2. Create a simple nature display in your home. This can be a small tabletop or shelf where you keep some of the treasures that you find on your nature walks or outdoor play. A nature table does not need to be complicated - just let it reflect the colors and textures of the evolving seasons right in your own backyard. Your preschooler will love to co-create it with you.
3. Start learning songs and verses for each season. Let the songs that you sing throughout the day match your child’s experience of living in that season.
4. Make a connection to the people and places that provide your food. This connection between the earth and our own nourishment used to be so obvious but now the dots have to be connected for children. Visits to the farmer’s market allow you to get familiar with what food is grown locally in each season. Visiting actual farms is a wonderful thing to do and many farms now offer educational programs for young children. If you find an opportunity for your child to do real actual work on a farm (caring for animals, harvesting vegetables, maple sugaring….) that is a golden experience!
5. Take it a step further and grow your own garden.
6. Celebrate seasonal festivals.
How do you connect with nature in your family?