Why you Should Teach Kids to Be Naturalists

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Many parents fall into the trap of using tech gadgets to distract their kids just for that one hour while you take a shower and make lunch. But this seemingly benign habit can quickly spiral into an everyday activity as they grow fond of their cartoons, games and their colorful digital worlds. And we all know how this can affect their long-term well being.

On the other side of the spectrum, kids are curious and eager to learn – which is often reflected in the sheer number of questions they tend to ask in a single day, but how many are you able to answer? You can make the most of their natural inquisitiveness, and harness their potential to grow up into kind, caring individuals with a passion for nature and knowledge.

Let their wonder flourish

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I’ve never noticed that our local park has so many lovely flowering plants until my kids asked me in amazement: “Mom, what kind of grass is this?” To my own amazement, I could only go as far as: “That’s not grass, honey, it’s a plant”, without being able to explain what sort of a plant it is, and I’ve lived in the area for my entire life. And yet, I know more about the rose-ringed parakeet native to India, simply because I like to research the countries I travel to.

Kids’ amazement for what feels ordinary to us as grownups is something we shouldn’t stifle, but encourage. In reality, there is nothing ordinary about these plant varieties, and learning about them together with your kids will broaden their horizons. Most importantly, every time you discover an interesting answer, there will be dozens of new questions sprouting up.

Foster their connection to nature

Humans fear what they cannot fathom, so allowing your kids an intimate glimpse into the natural world will transform their curiosity into love, understanding and amazement. Why should they be afraid of the house centipede or the harmless spider species? But they should also know what to do when they encounter a potentially dangerous species.

Inspire your kids to discover the wonders in their own environment, and they will happily coexist without the urge to squish every creature in their way. Knowing just how important these beings are to our ecosystem and their role in the world will deepen your kids’ understanding and help them to look beyond the unseemly surface and into a living thing’s purposeful existence.

Grow their environmental awareness

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The earlier you help them foster Earth-friendly habits, the greater the chances for them to grow up into eco-friendly humans that respect and cherish the natural wealth of our planet. I was stunned when my four-year-old daughter practically scolded me for not turning off the tap while brushing my teeth. It was a moment of forgetfulness, since she picked up the habit from me earlier that week!

A few of these green conversations prompted our kids further in the right direction, which reflected brilliantly on our overall lives. Now they use their computers and tablets to research the animal kingdom and create their own DIY projects such as making bird houses and feeders.

Help them make healthy choices

It even extends to their lifestyle, as they use the Internet to look for ways to improve their life and learn more about the natural world. If you look at our search history now, you’ll see Wikipedia pages of flowers and animals, or their latest a visit to their favorite online bike store from when they started coaxing us for a pair of Shimano helmets for the next fieldtrip. It has become another way to bond as a family.

We’ve created a tradition of weekend family getaways to the national parks, or the outback for longer trips. We’ve learned so much alongside their research projects, we’ve filled our bookshelves with encyclopedias, and our kitchen shelves with healthy bites. With a bit of knowledge in their hands, they make smarter choices on their own, which are further encouraged by our own family lifestyle. But most importantly, they’re nourishing invaluable skills, and making a difference one small step at a time.

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