For someone who lives in a city (in an apartment, at that) and who has yet to go camping for fear of the bathroom “amenities,” I still consider myself a nature enthusiast. I love being outdoors, whether to go on a beautiful hike, lie on the beach or even visit our local park.
So it’s only fitting that I want my toddler to hold the same fondness for nature. The heart of everything environmental lies in the appreciation for our natural surroundings. Being outdoors and immersed in nature has been on our agenda since our little guy was born. But since we don’t live on acres of outdoors, we find other ways to introduce nature to our toddler. For instance:
- We make sure he spends time outdoors, preferably at least an hour a day. Living in Southern California gives us plenty of reasons to be outdoors. And by outdoors, I’m talking simple things like walking around the block or hanging out on our patio.
- We frequent our local park. I’m secretly glad that our park doesn’t have the fanciest playground, and instead has a wide expanse of greenery and even a little trail. We end up spending a ton of time picking flowers, finding acorns and pine cones and running on the grass.
- We go hiking or to the beach. We recently discovered some hills nearby that lets us walk and hike outdoors. And we’re lucky enough to live ten minutes away from the beach; can’t hate that!
- We planted carrots. And yes, they’re actually growing; I’m so excited! I can’t wait until we get to pull them out of the ground so our toddler can see where carrots come from, as well as witness how the tiny little seedlings grow into actual vegetables.
- We let him get up close and personal with bugs. Well, my husband does. Somewhere between eight years old and thirty-something, I lost my ability to touch bugs. As a kid, I used to collect ants, handle snails and pick up ladybugs and spiders like it was nothing. Now, I either look away when my toddler picks up a bug (all the while hoping he doesn’t squish them, because gross—I really don’t want to clean up bug guts) or hand bug duty over to my husband.
I hope my toddler will grow up to be a steward of his natural environment and enjoy the outdoors as much as we do. Instilling an appreciation for nature will be foremost in ensuring that he takes care of this place. And who knows, maybe he’ll convince me to camping, bathroom amenities or not.
In the meantime, below are a few links to read:
- First, The Minimalist Mom asks Are you raising your kids to be hoarders? Our home is pretty clutter-free, including children’s toys and books. Then again, he’s only two so who knows how much stockpile he’ll end up with in a few years.
- Over at The New York Times, Jenny Anderson writes about Making education brain science. The author highlights a certain school where the kindergarten curriculum includes neurology and where academic and emotional education are integrated.
- And finally, The Wall Street Journal features an article discussing How schools can teach innovation. The author suggests offering hands-on classes and—my favorite—not penalizing failure. Our failures are simply ways we can learn. If we offer kids an opportunity to evaluate their mistakes instead of treating failure as shameful or taboo, we can provide them an opportunity to grow and innovate.
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