Okay, it’s easier said than done. Most eight to ten year olds these days like TV, games consoles and smartphones. Whatever happened to a nice walk outside with the dog or getting caught in the rain and not caring less? A local park is a pleasure. Fresh air is a gift. Nature is beautiful. Yet, according to the RSPB, it seems that our children prefer to be indoors, mostly disconnected from nature altogether. As parents, we can help our children to see the benefit in putting away their gadgets and getting on their wellies, simply by showing them how its done.
Get your 8-10 year olds out of the house
The RSPB released a Connecting with Nature report in 2013, which concluded that only a mere twenty one percent of eight to twelve year olds were ‘connected’ with the great outdoors. Beyond the toddler ages and before the teens, our children are shutting themselves away from nature. That’s almost eighty percent of children sitting inside on the sofa or lying around on their bed not enjoying the greenery outside their windows. With these kinds of sorry figures, you could wonder if the eight to ten year old bracket has even noticed the life growing in their gardens. Perhaps they take the shrubbery for granted?
Inspire your ten year old to reconnect with nature
It’s not all bad. Your eight year old daughter or ten year old son is still young enough to explore new things and find a connection with nature. It’s not too late to do something about it and get your child outdoors. Stephen Moss, who filed a report for the National Trust on what he calls a “generation of cotton-wool kids” says we should let our young children “get lost” in nature. In his article for the Guardian, Reconnecting Children with Nature, Moss holds parents accountable for encouraging change and he has a point. The RSPB talks about eight to twelve year olds finding empathy, responsibility and enjoyment in nature. We as parents have to show them how this is done by letting them explore in the first place to find their own way.
Tempt your eight year old out the door
It may be that by the time your child is eight years old they’re too reluctant to step outside into the messiness of nature after living in a cocoon of convenience and cleanliness. If this is the case, start indoors. Around the eight, nine or ten year old mark your child should have an active imagination and an appetite for discovery. Why not decorate their bedroom with a nature theme? We’re not talking about jungles and ocean waves – if the front lawn is a no-go for your child, start closer to home with trees, birds and flowers.
Flower quilt and accessories from Lovably Me
Childrens Wall Stickers at Lovably Me at lovablyme.co.uk
Bring the garden to life inside an eight year old’s bedroom. Bedding, wall decorations and accessories that look good, smell nice and feel comfortable can build positive associations with nature. You could add some real flowers, buy your little one a pot plant to care for or add a nature guide to their book shelf, so that they can identify the flowers and plants they see growing outside. It only takes one picture, one story or one sound to spark off a hint of curiosity that you can help to nurture into a real connection with the natural world.
Enjoy nature as a family
Eight to ten year olds don’t necessarily want to become ‘at one’ with nature by going on a walk with their parents, but spending time outdoors together can be fun for all ages, including adults. Lead by example. If you’ve tried without success to wean your kids away from their technology and exhausted the back garden or local park, pick up the pace.
Children love adventure
There are nearly thirty Go Ape forest adventure centres across the UK where children and their parents can go bananas for the day: swing from ropes, ride zip wires and hang about the tree tops. If they like this experience, who knows what excursions it can lead to next.