It’s important for children to be encouraged to connect with nature, but what if you are a little timid when it comes to exploring the outdoors? Whether you identify yourself as an “indoors” person or you just don’t know where to start, here are a few things you can do to make the transition a little easier.
1. Start small and stay in your comfort zone. You don’t have to go trekking out into the unknown to explore nature because there’s plenty to be discovered in your own backyard! Encourage kids to take a closer look at the familiar. You might be surprised at what you find. Would you like to attract even more wildlife to your backyard? Here are a few ways you can create a wildlife-friendly backyard.
2. Ask questions. Children are naturally curious, and you might even find yourself bombarded with questions. But if they need a little prompting, try asking a few of your own. Don’t worry if you don’t know all the answers! Keep a list and discover the answers together at a later time.
3. Record your observations. Take a camera, a nature journal, or both! Even young kids can benefit from creating a nature journal. They can use it for leaf and bark rubbings or they can draw what they see and dictate as you write. This would also be a great way to keep track of any questions that arise. A camera is another great way to keep track of what you find. Take pictures of plants, animals, and insects you’d like to identify and look them up together.
4. Invest in the right books. Even field guides can seem overwhelming if your family is just beginning to explore nature, so you should look for the ones aimed at beginners. For instance, most bird field guides are organized taxonomically. This means that the birds are grouped together by order and family. To identify the bird you have to know what type you are looking at and then flip to that section. For beginners, that can be tough. That’s why I like the Stokes Beginner’s Guide to Birds field guide. This book is organized by the color of the bird which makes it incredibly easy to use. Need more book suggestions? Be sure to check out these great series of books for exploring nature.
5. Reach out to others. Ask your friends, family and neighbors for advice and tips. Maybe they’ve discovered a great place that would make an awesome field trip, or maybe they are expert birders that wouldn’t mind sharing a few tips. You could even start a family-oriented nature club and trade off on activities based on interests and specialties.
The important thing is that you get out there and have fun, even if you have to take small steps!
Do you have any tips you’d add to this list? Please leave a comment and let us know!
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