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Dublin: 14 °C Thursday 22 August, 2019

Kids who spend time in nature are more relaxed - here are 8 tips to get them outdoors

And away from the television.

NATURE IS IMPORTANT to everyone’s wellbeing, but particularly to children, as playing in nature supports creativity, enhances cognitive ability and can reduce attention deficit disorder and stress.

But even more than that, it’s just good fun to get out in the world and play. There are loads of ways to get kids excited to be in nature, and we’ve rounded up eight of them here.

Get out there and enjoy yourselves.

1. Grow it yourself

Seedling Source: USDAgov via Flickr/CC

One way to get children interested in nature is for them to start growing their food themselves.

The kids will love seeing how much the plants grow every day and be thrilled with themselves when the salad leaves or tomatoes end up on their plates. They’ll even be more inclined to eat vegetables they’ve grown themselves, so if you have trouble getting them to eat their greens, this just might help.

To get started, head over to the Grow It Yourself website which has loads of information on how to get going.

2. Turn off the screens

shutterstock_115367596 Source: Shutterstock/Oleksandr Lysenko

Limiting children’s screen time is never a bad idea, but turning them off, particularly when out and about means they’ll pay more attention to what’s going on around them.

If commuting, or just walking around, you can encourage them to observe more, pointing out things like different types of trees or flowers, spotting any birds, or pointing out the shapes the clouds are making.

3. Get creative

Source: diyncraftpriscilla/YouTube

If you can’t get outside in nature for whatever reason (usually weather related), you can bring nature into the home.

Here’s an easy tutorial to make a leaf bowl from autumn leaves, and there are loads of other leaf-inspired tutorials on YouTube for children of all ages.

4. Learn the names of plants and trees

Source: Philippe Put via Flickr/CC

There is a teaching exercise going round the internet showing how children can recognise more brand logos than they can leaves of common trees. While it’s by no means a scientific study, it does make you think about how much advertising is seen on a daily basis.

Make a game of learning the names of leaves and plants and seeing who can recognise different trees when you’re out and about. If it’s a game, it won’t feel like learning. Plus, everyone likes a prize.

5. Check out the stars

Stars Source: TimothyDavidGreenfield via Flickr/CC

Another great part of nature to keep an eye on is the night sky. Heading out for a night drive somewhere with less light pollution and showing the children a properly starry sky will really wow them.

Or if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere with very little light pollution, just go out to the garden and show them the wonders of the universe.

6. Head to the wilderness… or just the park

Source: MIKI Yoshihito. (#mikiyoshihito) via Flickr/CC

The easiest way to be inspired by nature, is just to get out in nature. Even if you live in a city, there’s generally a park or river or some other bit of wilderness not too far away.

While a photo or two to mark the occasion is nice, remember to stay engaged in what’s actually surrounding you and the kids (and stay off the phone). They’ll pick up on your curiosity and attention and be more curious themselves.

7. Pay attention to the seasons

Source: thekeithhall via Flickr/CC

Making children aware of the passing of the seasons by observing it through the growing plants and trees around them is another easy way to help them appreciate nature.

Noticing buds appearing on trees or the first snowdrops or crocuses breaking through and following their progress across the seasons will help sustain kids’ interest in nature throughout the year.

8. Take a hike

Source: DancingPope via Flickr/CC

It doesn’t have to be an epic hike, even a stroll in nature will do. There are seven tree trails around Dublin and you can check out the Wood Council for downloadable brochures to print out. The brochures contain maps, room for your sketches of trees and facts about native species of trees, so you can get some exercise and learn (in a fun way) at the same time.

Do you have any suggestions for getting kids interested in nature? Let us know in the comments below.

Are you inspired to get into nature now? If you’re looking for another great event to get the kids outdoors, make sure to go to the Nature Valley sponsored walk in Rathbeggan Lakes, 17 September, where there will be goodie bags and obstacle courses for children. Head over to Nature Valley to find out more. 

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