But for many, especially those living in urban environments, nature isn’t always so readily accessible. And even with access to the great outdoors, many of today’s kids are spending more time connected to entertainment media than to nature—an average seven-plus hours per day.
While the challenges are clear, getting outside is important for children. Studies show that kids who spend time outdoors are more physically active and imaginative, have longer attention spans and decreased aggression, and perform better in classrooms.
Furthermore, getting outside as a kid is a great route to caring for the environment as an adult. After all, as ocean advocate and explorer Jacques Cousteau once said, “People protect what they love.”
Here are a few ideas to connect your kids with nature, no matter where you live.
Find nature nearby. Parks are a great way to explore outside, and you can often find them within a short walk, bike or drive. If you don’t have an entire day to devote to taking a walk in the park, try dedicating one night a week for unstructured outside playtime. Not sure where the closest outdoor space is? NWF’s Nature Find resource can help.
Take everyday activities outside. If you have a hectic schedule, as many of us do, try moving everyday activities outdoors. You could host a picnic dinner or even have your child do homework outside.
Play a game. Don’t let your time outside turn monotonous. Go on a scavenger hunt, play outdoor games, create arts and crafts from items you find in nature, or try your hand at citizen science. NWF’s activity finder is a great place to start.
Join a community garden. Many cities have community gardens. Volunteering is a great way to get outside, connect with your community and learn new gardening skills in the process.
Volunteer for a conservation event. Look up conservation events in your area. From beach cleanups to wetland restorations and tree plantings, there are a ton of ways to participate in restoring vital habitats for wildlife.
Bring nature to you. For those days when you just can’t get outside, choose children’s books and activities that feature positive stories and photos of nature, animals and their habitats.