Nurture through nature: Benefits of spending time in nature

Time spent outdoors is not wasted. In fact, time spent in nature provides many important benefits and puts an end to the time worn debate. Instead of worrying whether or not if it is a child's inherent nature or how they were nurtured, that shapes their character; introduce your child to nature and they will receive nurturing along the way.

6 nurturing nature activities

Gather objects: A small bag is useful for carrying treasures found in the woods. Make sure it is small enough for your child to still hold comfortably when it is full, but big enough to fit a pine cone and a few other objects. In lieu of a bag, a roll of masking tape makes gathering objects fun. Wrap a piece of masking tape around your child's wrist with the sticky side out. Leaves and seed pods can be stuck to the tape creating a pretty bracelet.

Stop and stare: Sit on a log and take a closer look at the ground or the clouds in the sky. Let your child follow a lady bug, or peak under a rock. Pick up a wooly bear caterpillar and really examine the fluffy creature. Slowing down may be difficult for you, but this time spent moving at your child's pace will help nurture their attention to details and curiosity.

Claim a tree: Visit a particular tree every time you go in the woods. Observe the changes with your child. Aside from changing seasons, the tree may lose branches after a storm, or have a nest built in the branches. Take a picture of your child next to the tree every few months so you have a record of the changes in both the tree and your child.

Creative play: Let your child lead the way with his imagination. My son loved to dress up before taking a walk in the woods. He would wear pieces of old Halloween costumes and pretend to be a knight or a king, a soldier, or a super hero depending upon the mood of the day. We also built fairy houses at the base of trees and dodged "enemies" along the way.

Water play: Drop sticks or leaves in a stream to watch them race. There were times we brought paper boats, but most of the time found nature objects did the trick. They will see the water levels go up and down depending upon how much rain the area is receiving. Experiencing nature first hand helps them see cause and effect, learn how ecosystems work and encourages curiosity.

Nature journal: Extend the benefits of your time outdoors by having your child work on a nature journal. A blank book is a great place to record what was discovered each time. Even if your child cannot write, or does not want to write, they can draw pictures. The process of recording their discoveries helps solidify the experience.

More by Sylvie Branch:

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