Today’s kids are tomorrow’s adults. Helping them develop a passion for the outdoors now will give them a head start when it comes to making their own outdoor endeavors later in life. Getting your kids outdoors can seem like a daunting task, especially if you live in an area that doesn’t have many green spaces. But there are lots of ways to expose your children to the natural world without having to drive long distances or pay an admission fee.
Go on a hike
Hiking is one of the best ways to help kids learn about nature. Ask them to collect some of the leaves and flowers they come across on the way. Even better, help with a leaf or flower identification guide so they can identify what they’ve found. If you have a smartphone, there are lots of great educational apps which can help you identify plants, flowers, and trees. If you don’t have a smartphone, there are plenty of free paper guides to help you identify what’s in your area. Be warned, though, that these can be very addictive! If you have kids of a sensitive nature, you can start your hiking adventure close to home. Pick a park or green space that is close to where you live and explore the trails there. You don’t even have to walk if you don’t want to – you can go for a ride on a bicycle or scooter. Exploring trails and pathways on two wheels is a great way to get out, get active, and get some fresh air. Here is a great way to find a hiking trail near you.
Visit a park
Your local park might be the best outdoor destination for your family, especially if you have young kids. There are lots of activities to try at a park, such as playing sports, running around, and picnicking. Parks often have playgrounds, too, so you can let your kids explore their creative side as well as provide them with lots of fun. Many parks are also home to wildlife. You might be lucky enough to see local birds, butterflies, or even larger mammals. If you have a disability or reduced mobility, don’t let that hold you back. There’s no reason why you can’t go outdoors and enjoy nature, too. Your local council may have special access programs that can help you find the best activities in your area. If not, ask your friends what they recommend, or ask at your local disability group.
Go for a walk or ride your bike
Exploring your local area on foot or by bicycle is a great way to get your children biking away from their screens and into the fresh air. It’s also a great way to get some exercise and fresh air for you, too. Pick a route you can all enjoy, whether it’s down a trail or through a local park. Kids often love exploring the world on foot or by bike. They can stop and explore things they find along the way, and you can use the time to catch up with your partner or have a good old-fashioned nap! Biking has the added benefit of being a bit faster than walking, so it’s a good option if you have a long walk planned. There are lots of bike trails and bike paths in most towns and cities now, so you don’t have to stick to the roads if you don’t want to. You can even take your kids with you on an adult-sized bike if you want to – there are special seats for kids, too. Just make sure your child is wearing the correct equipment, such as a helmet, so they can join in the fun. Here are a few great trails in the US for biking.
Create an outdoor nature center
Kids love collecting things, so why not create a nature center outdoors? You can make it as simple or as complex as you want, but the idea is that kids can collect different things and keep them in one place. You can keep it simple and collect things like leaves, sticks, and stones. Or, you can go all out and create a nature center where your children can keep a collection of preserved insects, moths, and even small mammals. If you do go for the more complex nature center, be sure to check all the items are of an appropriate size, so they don’t pose a safety hazard. Nature centers are a great way to engage children and spark their curiosity. They can learn more about the different animals and plants that surround them, and even conduct their own experiments by creating mini gardens at home. Nurturing kids’ curiosity and love of nature is a great way to get them outside, exploring and engaged with their surroundings. It’s also a great way to encourage their love of science and learning.
Camping can be a great way to help kids get out, get dirty, and get engaged with nature. It doesn’t have to be a permanent thing, either – you can always go for a weekend away to try it out and see how everyone gets on. Camping can be great for all ages, too, as there are lots of options available to suit families. You can hire a cabin to sleep in, or use a tent. You can get away with beautiful beaches, rolling fields, or forests away from civilization if you want to, or even stay in a city center if you prefer. There are lots of different ways to go camping, so it’s important to think about what you and your family want to get out of the experience. Fall is a great time to go camping for the cool weather and less bugs. Once you’ve decided where to go and what gear to take with you, you can focus on the outdoor activities that are available to you while you’re away. Find a campground near you.
Help your child discover their own interests
Kids are often very interested in the hobbies and interests of their parents. You can use this to your advantage when trying to get your children outdoors. If your child is interested in your own hobbies, such as running or gardening, you can turn these into outdoor activities. If your child has their own interests, such as Pokémon or Star Wars, you can use these to engage them outdoors. If your child is a fan of Pokémon, for example, you can plan a family day where you try to find nearby Pokémon hotspots. Alternatively, if your child is a fan of Star Wars, you could try to find places that look like where scenes from the movies were filmed.
Being outdoors is good for you and your family. It can help to reduce stress, improve your mood and health, and it can also help to spark creativity in your children. Getting outdoors doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated, and there are lots of ways to engage with nature and get your kids out into the world. Pick a day, grab some friends, and go exploring!