Four Major Reasons to Bring Your Child Closer to Nature

As young children, many of us spent plenty of time outdoors. How many times can you remember your parents telling you to “go out and play” and you did, not coming back until the streetlights came on? Many adults have fond memories of summers (and falls, winters, and springs) spent like that.

For the kids of today, the draw of going outside is shared with the temptation of technology. Children have an innate desire to be in nature, but digital devices can be enticing with their noise, bright lights, and constant stimulation. 

It’s important to get your child outside for a number of reasons. Being exposed to the natural world comes with a number of long-term benefits, and this article will outline the four major reasons why you should bring your child closer to nature.

Why Play in a Natural Environment?

Playing outdoors helps to cultivate a child’s intellectual, emotional, social, and physical development. In fact, there’s not much that nature doesn’t help with when it comes to a well-rounded child. Nature stimulates all the senses and allows a child to experience an environment that’s always changing.

Here are four reasons to bring your child closer to nature:

  • It helps them grow intellectually.

Think of nature as one giant scientific laboratory. Children, being the natural scientists that they are, love experiencing the different sights, scents, sounds, and textures that nature offers. Being outside provides kids countless opportunities to discover new things, be creative, and solve problems that they wouldn’t encounter doors.

Being outside encourages a child to learn by doing. Through natural experimentation, they can naturally learn to think independently, question their surroundings, and make hypotheses—without even realizing that they’re doing as much. This helps to develop a curious mind.

Children’s minds are constantly working when they’re outside, whether they’re subconsciously calculating the distance between two rocks , wondering where insects live, or testing how deep the snow is. Experiences like this offer real-life learning and an opportunity to take risks, make mistakes, and try again.

Here are few outdoor activities for your child to get their mind working:

  • Building with dirt / digging in dirt
  • Watching worms move through soil
  • Watching the clouds
  • Splashing in puddles
  • Listening to and watching birds
  • Smelling cut grass
  • Collecting seeds
  • Making huts with twigs and mud

  • It fosters emotional intelligence.

Being outside in nature feels good. When they’re outside, children are free to explore, go fast, and be as loud as they want. These are all forms of self-expression that can’t always happen within the confines of a house or school. Outside, children can run, hop, jump, skip, climb, shout, and roll—and all of these actions relax the mind, reduce tension, and decrease anxiety and feelings of restlessness.

Along with the body feeling good, the mind feels good too. Nature allows for a sense of peace to come to a child’s brain, and it can bring out nurturing qualities within them. You may witness energetic children slow down and concentrate while digging a hole, observing a spider crawl, or stirring mud in a puddle.

  • It offers social benefits.

While outdoors, children have the opportunity to interact with new playmates. They have the choice to play alone or interact with others—and other children bring opportunities to share and solve problems.

In nature, children often collaborate to create games and rules because there are no set instructions for how to play outside. They can create a universe that is all their own. In many cases, school-age children are not near adults while outdoors, which gives them even more freedom to make up their own rules and solve their own problems.

Even the loudest children typically slow down and focus on being gentle when given ample time to spend outside. This helps to develop empathy, which aids in creating lasting friendships.

  • It’s good for the physical body.

Fresh air is invigorating for all of us, and being outside offers countless opportunities for physical activity, and physical activity builds strong bodies. Children also absorb vitamin D through the sun while they’re outside, which contributes to a strong immune system.

Playing outside is inherently more physical than playing inside, meaning that it burns more calories and benefits a child’s overall physical fitness as well.

Here are some physical outdoor activity ideas:

  • Tree climbing
  • Playing tag
  • Standing and hopping on one foot
  • Falling over for fun
  • Hanging and swinging from monkey bars
  • Jumping into puddles

These activities are just as good for adults as they are for children! If you get the chance to spend time outdoors with your child, don’t be afraid to join in on these physical activities. It will benefit you both and bring you closer together.

Your Child in the Natural World

Being outside in nature is a primal need for us as humans. In order to foster a love of the environment in your child, start early and spend time outside whenever it’s possible. This way, you’ll raise children who appreciate nature and all that it adds to their lives.

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