I grew up with a great deal more freedom than the average child these days. We lived in a quiet neighbourhood, had plenty of yard both front and back and were a short bike ride from farms and the country in almost any direction. We had creeks, streams and even a large river less than a 20 minute bike ride away and a number of woods perfect for exploring. To top it all off my grandparents ran a sizeable farm in Ontario that gave me extensive exposure to animals, crops and gardening.
These days even when similar amenities are nearby very few children are given a long enough leash to explore them. Further, with both parents in the workplace in many cases, they aren’t given the same educational guidance to go along with their regular exploration.
In my mind this is a huge shame. While today I work in technology my love of nature remains very strong. I still remember details about bugs, plants and animals that I learned from my parents and grandparents many, many years ago.
So what’s a parent to do? I have to admit I don’t have the answer. The extent to which you let your child explore their surroundings is a very personal decision and one affected by the specifics of your surrounding. That said there are ways to foster an interest in nature around the house. I’ve gathered a few links below to serve as ideas to get started:
Nothing replaces unhurried outdoor experience in nature, but for those cold / rainy winter days, or for those living in locations without nearby parks, streams and woods this kind of information may stimulate a curiosity in the outdoors and science for kids who might not otherwise get exposure.