Sharing Nature with Children — Slow Down, Get Dirty and Celebrate!

by Charity Kahn | July 2, 2016 7:40 pm

We all know that children are naturally connected with nature. Think of the way a child intuitively immerses in the sand and water at the beach, or slows down to match the pace and scale of the grass and dirt and bugs in the back yard garden, surrounding themselves with the elements and the magic of Earth. Think back to a time in your own childhood when you felt happy, grounded, safe and at ease, and chances are the memory involves being outside somewhere.

Research now shows what we know in our hearts to be true: kids (and all humans!) NEED to be outside more, for their healthy physical, mental and emotional development. But as busy parents leading lives in a modern, tech-focused world, how do we encourage, model and prioritize this connection with Earth for our kids, and for ourselves?

Here are some simple suggestions you can try with your family. And I’ve included one of my songs with each tip, because singing and dancing facilitate and deepen learning!

1. GET DIRTY. Allow your kids to truly immerse themselves in the natural world even if it means getting dirty! A bath and a little extra laundry are well worth the benefits of setting your kids free in this way. Bonus — soil microbes apparently have an anti-depressant effect on the brain!  SONG: We Need Mud [1]

2. PLANT SEEDS. There’s nothing like planting a few wildflower seeds in your back yard to help foster a connection with Earth and the cycle of life. Note the similarities between a flower seed and human beings and other creatures — we all receive from Mother Earth what we need in order to grow and thrive! You are also practicing patience and trust with your children while waiting for the seeds to sprout. SONG: Flower Power [2]

3. BEFRIEND A TREE. Visit your favorite tree and imagine it is a being with whom you can communicate. Ask the tree some questions about its life. Tell the tree some stories from your life. Sit quietly underneath the tree, visualizing your in-breath as the tree’s out-breath, and vice verse. Appreciate this beautiful, life-giving tree, and your interdependence! SONG: Keep a Green Tree in Your Heart

4. SLOW DOWN. Take a mindful walk in a park, forest or other natural setting and truly go at your child’s pace. Be present, as a witness, without directing their experience. Allow them to lead. Allow yourself to relax. SONG: I Am the Earth

5. CELEBRATE EARTH! Have a family dance party with earth-conscious songs as the sound track. Invite the neighbors and your community! ALBUM

When you model and practice appreciation, respect, gratitude and care for Mother Earth, your children will naturally grow up with the intention to care for, protect and defend this beautiful planet. And you’ll get back down to Earth yourself in the process. Win, win.

Endnotes:
  1. We Need Mud : https://charityandthejamband.bandcamp.com/track/we-need-mud
  2. Flower Power : https://charityandthejamband.bandcamp.com/track/flower-power

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