How to Help Your Child Connect with Nature

In Britain, we have a slightly odd relationship with nature. Sure, David Attenborough’s a national treasure and we watch a lot of nature programs on TV, but we tend to overlook the wonders of our own natural landscape. 

But this doesn’t have to be the case. Whether you live in the inner city or the heart of the countryside, there’s plenty of nature to be found. And the benefits of helping your child connect with nature are significant.

Try a couple of our fun suggestions to get you started. They’re just the ticket for indoorsy and outdoorsy families alike.

Take a sensory walk (or crawl)

One of the most immediate ways to connect with nature is through your sense of touch. We’re always on the lookout for interesting natural textures, and when we find them we love to get up close and personal. 

Get your child to close their eyes and feel the smooth-rough-smooth bark of a birch tree. Walk barefoot on shingle, or crawl on earth-scented, dew-damp grass. Don’t try and make sense of the textures – just get lost in a world of sensation.

Get to know the wildlife around you

Trust us: even if you live in a city flat without a garden, there’s plenty of wildlife to be found in your home territory. We think it’s only good manners to introduce yourself to your wild neighbours. 

Don’t forget, wildlife includes anything which is alive and which hasn’t been cultivated on purpose. So house spiders, greenfly, mice, pigeons, slugs, snails, weird mushrooms and the tiny flies looping circuits around your fruit bowl all count.

It’s fun to look at wildlife under high magnification, so do what field biologists do and get hold of a cheapish hand lens. It’ll open up a whole new world of detail. 

Then, once you’re thoroughly acquainted with your existing wildlife, why not start a ‘homes for nature’ project with your kids to attract even more?

Look with an artist’s eye

Before photography, the great pioneering naturalists had no way to record their sightings except by drawing and describing them. Even though nobody goes anywhere without a camera phone in this day and age, art is still an excellent basis for forming a deeper relationship with nature.

Neither you nor your children need to be conventionally arty to get the benefit of this approach, and your artwork doesn’t need to be realistic. Just relax and allow yourself to be inspired by what you see. 

Sketching, painting, model-making and texture rubbings are all good approaches. If words are your thing, write a poem or add a couple of paragraphs of description. And if the weather’s bad, you can always relocate to the stuffed animal display at your local museum.

Do a research project

As you already know from experience, kids of a certain age are fantastic at asking questions. And questions like “Why are there more species at the earth’s equator than at its poles?” are the basis of some of the most high-level scientific research.

So the next time your little Einstein asks you an unanswerable question about nature, launch your own research lab. Start by finding out as much as you can through observation, collecting evidence through photographs, drawings, descriptions and counts. 

Then move on to the internet and books to see what you can find. If your children are older and you want to get involved in something more serious as a family, you can even take part in real citizen science projects like Penguin Watch.

More company means more fun

Don’t forget, though, the best research is done in groups. It’s more fun, too. Next time you’re planning a nature activity with your kids, why not download the Loose Ends app and use it to invite some like-minded friends to join you?

* This is a sponsored post from Loose Ends App. 

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