Encouraging kids to spend time outside has never been more important. With many glued to ABC Kids, in infancy, and given iPads in the classroom, from preschool age, our children are far more tech-savvy than older generations.
Sadly, this has come at a price: our children have lost some of what it means to be young. I mourn for the simple childhood that my younglings won’t enjoy. With their favourite shows at the touch of a button, they’ll never experience the mind-numbing boredom that drives one outside to dream up adventures and delight in natural wonders.
BY HAZEL – LITTLE ECO SHOP
This generation of adults virtually lived outdoors, as children. Today, kids are lucky to spend one hour each weekday in nature. Illuminating the gravity of this trend, one study found that kids were opting to do chores, in preference to playing outside!
Increasingly sedentary lifestyles are causing a major decline in children’s health. Outdoor play is the perfect prophylactic for Australia’s skyrocketing rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes and vitamin D deficiency.
‘Last child in the woods’, by acclaimed nonfiction author, Richard Louv, uses the term ‘nature deficit disorder’ to explain the soaring rates of behavioural issues we are seeing in today’s children. Time spent in nature has been shown to improve focus and performance on concentration tests, for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
There are so many pertinent reasons to turn kids’ attention outdoors and fostering their love of nature starts with us! We must abandon our grown-up preoccupations with cleanliness and control, and encourage kids to frolic in mud and leaves, to climb the tallest tree, and marvel at flowers and insects. Even getting outside with them and modelling appreciation for the earth.
You could start with something as simple as a walk around the block together, each day. It’s all about creating new habits; resisting the urge to come home from school and work and flick on the television. We’ve got three wonderful ideas to help your family return to nature and up your outside game.
1. Grow a garden from scratch
Growing a fruit and veggie patch with kids allows them to witness the magic of the earth at work. Watching their pride and amazement as they harvest, and eat, the food they’ve grown is pure magic.
The smallest area can create a garden bed or, failing that, opt for potted plants on your windowsill. Little Eco Shop’s Herb Kit and Flower Kit, complete with recycled plastic pots, are particularly suited to small homes and gardens.
Allowing young ones to select, and plant, their seeds and care for their patch, fosters a sense of ownership, and appreciation for the fruits of the earth. Growing an edible garden will slash your grocery bill and help your family to avoid unnecessary chemical sprays.
Little Veggie Patch Co offers a fantastic range of seed kits, including leafy greens, kids’ favourites, culinary herbs and edible flowers, to get your garden up and growing.
2. Transform your backyard into a nature reserve
Setting up environments in the yard that attract wildlife, will create an exciting reason for kids to venture outside. What type of bird or insect will we spot today? How can we identify a species that we haven’t seen before?
A solitary native bee home is a beautiful addition to any outdoor space, providing an ideal environment for native bees. Solitary species, such as Reed Bees, Leafcutters and Carpenter Bees, do not build hives and produce honey, but they will certainly help your garden to flourish, providing an abundance of free labour. Little Eco Shop offers you beautiful ready-built bee homes made from upcycled timber or you can opt for the DIY version where you and your little one go foraging for sticks and twigs and then build the bee home together.
Create a sanctuary for birdlife, with an Eco Bird Feeder, by Ashortwalk. Made from recycled plant pots, simply hang it in your yard, fill with seed and watch as dozens of birdie buddies come to visit.
3. Create a masterpiece from fauna
If there’s one thing kids adore, it’s art and craft! My three-year-old pleads with me every day to do some form of making and I abhor buying plastic bobbles and glitter glue, when we can easily find beautiful materials in our own backyard, and the neighbourhood park.
Sunprints are a gorgeous motivator, inspiring kids to get outdoors and forage for fauna. Using photographic paper, water and sunlight, Sunprints produce the most stunning artworks, in vivid blue, from your little one’s nature finds.
A flower press allows you to immortalise the beauty of blossoming plant life, giving you no shortage of beautiful blooms to use on collage, flower crowns or picture frames.
Another favourite is using fruit and vegetables from the garden to create natural dyes, for use in potion-making and egg-decorating.
The possibilities for outdoor play, gardening and nature art are as wild as your child’s boundless imagination. Uninhibited by fear of dirt, or creepy crawlies, kids are hardwired to enjoy the outdoors, all that’s needed is a little nudge in nature’s direction.
Little Eco Shop offers all of the beautiful items mentioned above and we want to help you jumpstart your child’s love of the outdoors. We are pleased to offer you ten percent off your first purchase with us; simply use the code GROWINGKIND to redeem your discount.
Now, shut off that screen and go outside with your treasures!