This summer and for the rest of the year I hope one major goal you have is to get your family outside. Kids especially spend a depressingly large amount of time indoors nowadays and that’s unacceptable. Granted, it’s easy to keep on doing what you’re doing. Inside is easy. You’ve got books, video games, less dirt and grime and you don’t have to put in as much effort or time. However, spending 98% of the time is not healthy; not for you or your kids. Sitting inside is absolutely not a good way to raise green kids.
Nothing compared to the values your child gains from nature. A kid who is raised to love nature will be far more inclined to protect the planet when she grows up than a child who could care less because she was never exposed to nature.
If you need some killer ideas and help for getting your family outside more often check out the resources below.
Not one of the resources below matters if you’re not on board with being outside. Your kids pay super close attention to you and they love to mimic. If you’re reluctant to go hiking, swim in the lake, or even take a daily walk then your child will likely be happier inside or in front of the TV. If you don’t care, why should they? You can’t just go outside, you need to make being outdoors a positive experience.
- Dress for the weather so no one can complain.
- Take along gear to make it fun, like a bag for collecting rocks and leaves or a sled.
- Go to places with diverse nature – the beach, the woods, a marshland, a wide field at a farm.
- Get books that highlight the benefits of nature. My son always liked rock collection books, and he’d want to go hiking to find new rocks.
- Do art projects that use nature, such as building a solar cooker, making sun prints, creating holiday decor with leaves, and so on.
- When you’re outside you should also be talking about it. Discuss why leaves change color. Comment on that trash you see on the ground. Bring up why all those new buildings take away from the land.
- A community garden, beach clean-up, tree-planting event, and more makes for a fun and memorable day and also teaches your child that nature activities aren’t all solo. You can hang with others outside too.
- Be positive and get outside more often! There are totally days when I don’t feel like going on that walk or hitting the park. You just have to do it. On days where I’m feeling less than thrilled about heading out I try to consider what benefits my son will gain then I just do it. I always feel better having done an outdoor activity and in the end it’s always positive. Also, the more you do it, the easier it is. When my son was home FT with me, we’d get out 3-4 times a day which seems excessive to some people but it became a habit and we had an easier time thinking up new activities. Fellow PDX blogging mama Heather at EnviroMom has an excellent post up – How do you play? that really made me realize just how sorry I am when we skip outside playtime and also made me realize that it’s ok when I’m not perfect – trying is good!
National Wildlife Federation (NWF) is inviting families nationwide to sign up for the sixth annual Great American Backyard Campout, on June 26, 2010. Thousands of people across the country will gather in backyards, neighborhoods, communities, and parks for the one-night event created to get kids and families outdoors to sleep under the stars. You can register your family for the Great American Backyard Campout by visiting the Great American Backyard Campout website.
If you miss the Great American Backyard Campout the NWF still has plenty of resources to help your family get back to nature via their Be Out There program. From baby steps to nature to activities for a green hour outside to a helpful parent’s guide, Be Out There website is jammed packed with great outdoor ideas.
First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled the Let’s Move OUTSIDE initiative this June bringing together an impressive national partnership called the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK). OAK brings together the YMCA of the USA, REI, Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, Izaak Walton League of America, The Outdoor Foundation, National Recreation and Park Association and the Children & Nature Network, collectively representing over 30 million members, to address the growing divide between children and families and the natural world. OAK offers tips for getting outside at their website or you can visit their Facebook page for frequently updated tips.
- The Girl Scouts
- Children & Nature
- Nature Explore
- Camp Fire USA
- Nature Rocks
- American Hiking Society
- Appalachian Mountain Club
- Leave No Trace
- National Audubon Society
- U.S. National Park Service