I began taking Thomas and Lillian for walks when they were both infants. Having not tried to introduce going for walks and relighting the spark of wonder at a later age, I’m not sure how this would work with older children.
Thomas is 10 years old now and Lillian is 14 years old. Each of them treasure our walks together and if we skip more than 2 days, they notice and bring it up.
The meaning and reason for these walks has shifted over the years. When I first began walking it was to get exercise. The walks I take now are for experiencing my connection with nature, listening and learning from nature, and staying connected with my true self. This is the meaning I impart to Lillian and Thomas as well.
These “13 Ways to Keep Alive Your Child’s Nature Connection” have walks as their root. The root must be solid and secure if this growth period is to be successful.
- Make going for a walk together a priority. For this to work, there must be a strong commitment. Take each child on a walk alone, go for a family walk, take a walk with your significant other, and take yourself on a walk alone.
- Walk slowly. This is not about seeing how quickly you can get finished or how many calories you can burn.
- Point out clouds, leaves, trees, rocks, and animals. Get up close to the trees. Touch them. Speak what’s in your mind aloud and be curious.
- Ask your child how it makes them feel to be on this walk, sitting next to the lake, sitting on a rock, or touching the tree.
- Take pictures of the rocks, trees, leaves, sky, water, animals … whatever you feel moved to capture. Invite your child to do the same. You can talk about these pictures later.
- Take a journal with you. Sit and write or draw whatever comes to heart. Invite your child to do the same.
- If your child invites you to feel a rock or pinecone or to dip your toes in the water or stand on a big rock or to make shadows or to catch the leaves as they fall; say “yes”, let go and have fun with him.
- If they want to linger a bit longer, say “yes”. Whatever is waiting for you at home, can wait. This is deepening your own connection with your child and with nature. And, also strengthening your child’s connection with nature.
- Choose a “sit spot”. This is a place that you and your child will visit every time you take a walk. While at your sit spot, sit in silence, and listen. The more you do this, the more you will begin to see and hear and smell. This is a good place to use your journal.
- During the walk, ask your child what she hears, smells, sees and what something feels like when touched.
- Your child is continually learning from this experience. It’s best not to attempt to make this about learning the proper names of birds, flowers, weeds, and clouds as this will follow naturally the more you walk. Take note of whatever it is and have fun researching it later.
- Collect rocks, sticks, leaves, pinecones, and whatever else to take home. Have a place on the patio, in the garage, or inside the house so these can be used later for research or for creating nature based art.
- Authentically share your own sense of wonder with your child. This may be buried deeply within. Yet, it is there. Meditate, pray, practice yoga, whatever calls to you so that you can peel back the years and layers of losing your nature connection.
There’s no need to wait until you have time to go camping or to get away from the city. The trail at a local park will work. A walk along the sidewalk in your neighborhood will do. Nature is everywhere if we open our heart and eyes to seeing her.
We just read two GREAT children’s books that emphasize this. They are:
(I invited Thomas and Lillian to review this to ensure I had not left out anything. With a few additions, it is ready!)
I help to support my family with my writings. So … there are Amazon affiliate links in this post. This simply means that if you click through to Amazon for more information about a book, and you buy something, we get a few cents (and it doesn’t cost you anything more than usual). If you benefited from this writing, would you like to toss a tip in the love offering “bucket”? Oceans of gratitude … xoxo
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