As a preschool teacher, I spend a great deal of my time testing stuff out on my kids at home. My poor boys are subjected to bad playdough recipes, craft projects gone bad and leftover broken crayons. They also get the benefit of the good stuff, too. We spend a lot of time talking about science and history, reading a variety of books, and playing with every kind of math manipulative known in the Northern Hemisphere.
I have found, though, that many kids tend to be a bit wary of our natural world. And it is of no surprise. Many times, our focus on subjects like science on pollution, the need for programs like recycling, endangered species and other natural issues. I am a huge believer in raising my children to be aware of the environment and to take care of the world in which we live, but I am also very keen on teaching my children about the fun and beauty that can be found outdoors.
Children should be allowed to play and experience the world around them. Playing in mud and sand, dirt piles and with sticks is all part of growing up. Digging for worms and collecting bugs encourages respect and care for our little critter-friends. Take a nature walk and collect treasures along the way. Let kids walk in the rain with galoshes and umbrellas (provided it isn’t a thunderstorm). Find an earthworm and watch him wiggle when you touch him. Ask questions. Find answers. But, above all, teach your children that our environment is FUN. It is our natural playground. And, as long as we take care of it, we can enjoy it.
As kids get older, they will take an interest in the world, wanting to care for and stand up for their big playground called Earth. Encourage a love of the environment and you’re raising your own nature lover.