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5 Ways to Teach Your Children to Love the Outdoors

Posted Jan 14 2013 12:18pm

Written by Role Mommy Guest Contributor, Brett Callan.

iStock_000011742105_Small.jpg In an increasingly technological world, children spend more time glued to computers, video games and social media. There's a growing disconnect between children and the natural world, and it continues to increase. Fond memories of building forts in the woods, swimming in lakes, and star gazing on the grass have been replaced by florescent-lit classrooms and glaring screens of computers. It's important that we teach children to appreciate and interact with nature and the outdoors, especially while they are still young. Free-play outdoors will benefit their health and will peak their creativity and curiosity about the natural world they live in, an interest that could grow into an attitude of life-long learning that will benefit them for many years. Playing outdoors is also a great way to teach children how to relieve stress and stay active. Here are some ideas on how to teach your children to love the outdoors:

1. Go Wildlife Spotting Together
It's hard to teach children to love the environment without actually knowing what the natural world is like. Children must obtain knowledge about something before they can learn to love and respect it. Spend some time together researching local animals or plant life together, then go on a trip to a nearby park or forest and see if you can spot any of the plants or animals on your list.

2. Go on a Picnic
It's important to help your children associate positive feelings with the environment to want to spend time there. Doing something relaxing and pleasant in a beautiful, natural setting can help them foster a positive affinity with the outdoors. Bring a delicious lunch, some good games or a book, and find a nice spot outdoors to enjoy with the kids.

3. Take Swimming Lessons
Taking swimming lessons will give your child the opportunity to participate in fun aquatic sports. Kayaking, swimming, canoeing, sailing, snorkeling and scuba diving are also excellent ways to observe and enjoy the outdoors. Knowing that your child is a capable swimmer will make you feel more at ease when they're on the water.

4. Guided Tours and Educational Activities
Check your local National Park or Nature Center website for any guided tours. Often parks and Nature Centers offer tours with educational activities for children. Your kids can learn about the different types of plants and berries that are edible in the area or perhaps make molds from animal tracks. There's a variety of activities offered throughout the year. Guides are often very knowledgeable and enthusiastic, which can really help to increase your child's interest in nature.

5. Plan a Camping Trip
Take the whole family on a camping trip. It can be a great way to bond with each other and spend time outdoors. Put away any electronics or distractions and tell some stories by the fire. Go for a hike. Demonstrate to your kids how much you're enjoying yourself so they also can learn to love being outside as well. Don't do anything too strenuous or far out of their comfort zone in the beginning. The more fun and relaxed the activities are, the more likely your children will participate in them in the future.

Brett Callan is an instructor at murraycallanswimschools.com, where their Encinitas swim lessons offer customized support for children throughout San Diego. He loves to enjoy the San Diego weather whenever he can, whether from the beach or at a pool.

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