We give our children a great gift when we allow them to truly be IN nature. They have an innate connection with this beautiful earth of ours, but they can only maintain this connection with our support. They need unstructured time outdoors, playing in nature, and with all the treasures it has to offer.
Nature provides so much of what our children need in the present moment - a chance to play, fuel for the imagination and creativity, sensory experiences, lots of movement, a place to dream and just be. These build into the foundation of who they are and set them on a wonderful path to adulthood.
But it’s not just the child who benefits in the future, the Earth itself gets the rewards of a retained nature connection. We know our planet is in trouble, and the future stewards of it are in our care right now. If they are to look after the Earth, they need to love her first. And to love it they need to spend time IN it.
Sometimes we forget what it means to offer our children a natural experience. We look through an adult lens and see time outdoors as enough.
But our children experience the world differently than we do. A walk in a pram is great for fresh air purposes, but it’s not enough nature to strengthen a connection. Time outside playing is great too, but if on artificial grass and built structures, it is not meeting the nature needs of the child. They need to be hands on, which means actually being hands-in, and hearts-in.
They need to touch the gifts nature offers us - the plants, stones, sticks, shells, sand, mud, water - to move them, create with them, see how they work and how they can change. They need to experience all weather, to get dirty, to move their bodies, climb trees, balance on logs, throw stones. They need all this, and far far more, and they need it as often as possible.
Let’s nourish our children with real life experiences in natural settings. They build a rich bank of sensory knowledge that can’t be achieved through pictures on a screen or in a book. They have access to an ever-changing environment, so we don’t have to worry so much about constantly refreshing their toy stock as they want something new. They have that freedom to be a child that people worry is lacking these days. Children and nature go hand in hand - as long as we let them!