In an increasingly urbanised environment, it’s possible that your toddler hasn’t had the same exposure to the great outdoors as you had growing up. There are numerous obvious benefits to helping your children engage with nature. Observing, touching, and exploring a sensory-rich environment can improve attention, curiosity, and problem-solving skills. Nature also serves as an abundant source of inspiration for a child’s imagination. The diverse sights, sounds, and textures in nature can fuel creativity and storytelling abilities. Most importantly, creating an appreciation for the environment can lead to a sense of responsibility and stewardship for the natural world as your child grows older. Plus, it’s a great way to connect with your kids and give them fond memories of you two exploring together. Here are some ideas to build that rich connection.
Organise a scavenger hunt in a local park or nature reserve. Create a list of items for your child to find, such as leaves, flowers, rocks, or animal tracks. This activity encourages observation and curiosity about the natural world. In Sydney, try the Lane Cove Bushland Park. Make sure nothing is collected or taken home – take nothing but photos and leave nothing but footprints!
Involve your child in gardening activities, whether it’s planting seeds, watering plants, or harvesting vegetables. This hands-on experience allows them to witness the growth process and develop a sense of responsibility for nature. A herb garden, with plants like thyme, rosemary, tarragon, and basil, can easily transition into an interest in the kitchen.
Provide your child with a nature journal to record their observations and experiences during outdoor adventures. They can draw pictures, write descriptions, or even press flowers to remember their encounters with nature. Try the Bardwell Park and Wolli Creek walking tracks, or even your local park.
Construct a simple bird feeder with your child and place it in your yard or balcony. Watching birds visit the feeder allows your child to connect with wildlife and appreciate the importance of caring for animals.
Set up a tent in your backyard and spend a night camping with your child. Roast marshmallows, tell stories around a campfire, and experience the wonders of nature at night. Listen to the different noises and animal calls, identifying the sounds of Australia’s diverse and wonderful wildlife.
Take your child to a nearby beach, lake, or river. Play in the sand, skip rocks, or dip toes in the water. Learning about different water bodies can foster an appreciation for aquatic ecosystems. This is a great idea for a fun day out on a hot afternoon that costs less than the local pool!
In summary, helping your child connect with nature is a multifaceted investment in their overall well-being. It contributes to their physical, emotional, cognitive, and social development while fostering a deep appreciation for the natural world and a sense of responsibility to protect it for future generations. If you would like to learn more about our pre-school program and extra-curricular activities, find a local childcare centre near you now and book a tour to see what Mini Masterminds has to offer.