By Anya Willis
It’s never too early to get in touch with nature. Encouraging your kids to explore the outdoors is a great way to keep them active and connected to the environment. But you may be wondering how you can keep them engaged and keep them safe while they’re outside. Here are six tips to teaching your kids how to have fun, be responsible and stay safe while exploring outside.
Begin With Family at Home
You don’t have to go far to start fostering your family’s interest in the outdoors. In fact, there’s plenty of outdoor funyou can have right in your own backyard! Start with a Saturday afternoon building a bird feeder or taking your family on a tiny treasure hunt for flowers and plants. Really want to have an adventure? Plan a backyard camping trip. Set up a tent, get the sleeping bags and spend the night under the stars, with the comforts of home nearby. Planning backyard activities is a great way to get your kids used to being outside.
Make Safety a Focus of Your Adventures
As you begin to explore the outdoors with your kids, take the time to go over some basic safety tipswith them. Sunscreen is essential for daytime adventures, as well as a good pair of sunglasses and a hat. When exploring in the evenings, it’s a good idea to wear reflective materials and keep a flashlight or headlamp on at all times. Get your child a backpack and have them help you fill it with their very own “outdoor survival kit.” Include the items above, as well as some fun bandages and any other essential explorer gear appropriate for their chosen activity.
Keep Screens Out of the Picture
Tablets, televisions and cell phones are increasingly becoming a part of our lives. Kids seem attached to their screens but this isn’t necessarily good for their brains. Getting them outside is a perfect opportunity to put some distance between them and their screens. Show them that they can have real fun without electronics and take the time to truly engage with them. Don’t give into the temptation to use screens to calm or appease your children when playing outside and set a good example by ditching screens yourself!
Fuel Family Fun With Healthy Snacks and Hydration
Having fun outside is likely to leave your kids feeling hungry. Be prepared by picking up some healthy snacks. Dried fruit, peanut butter and granola are all great choices to keep any appetite satisfied during outdoor adventures. Want to have some extra fun getting ready for activities? Have your kids help you whip up some homemade granolaand snacks! Making your own goodies also gives you the chance to make adjustments for allergies or picky eaters. Finally, don’t forget to keep your family hydrated while you’re exploring outdoors. Invest in a reusable water bottle for each family member and fill it often. Teaching your children about proper nutrition and hydration is another simple way to keep them safe while they’re outside.
Reinforce Responsibility for the Environment
Taking your family outside is a perfect opportunity to educate them about the environment. Teach them about different ecosystems and their role in protecting each one. Don’t let them leave trash behind, even if it’s in your own backyard, and have them pick up any toys or gear they bring along. Talk to them about safe interactions with wildlife, especially for animals prevalent in your area, and how to respect local flowers and plants. If you build a fire, show them how to do so safely and the importanceof completely extinguishing fires once you’re done. Once again, set a good example by being “green” in your own adventures.
Promoting safe and active outdoor exploration to your kids is a perfect plan for keeping them busy, teaching them survival skills and fostering a positive relationship with the environment. Connecting children to the world around them gives them a better understanding of life and themselves. So start with small steps and then get out and explore the great outdoors with your entire family!
Article by Anya Willis of FitKids.info