Growing up, my family and I would go camping up and down the east coast. After helping my father set up the tent, we would explore the forest. Part of my favorite childhood memories is the two of us exploring nature. From running into a skunk as we walked our dog and not getting sprayed to finding frogs in lakes to admiring native birds, he taught me to appreciate the beauty of nature. It seems so difficult to break free and share these same experiences with my kids; however, I know how important nature walks and camping trips are to develop an appreciation of nature.
One of our goals this summer is to spend more time outdoors. We are intentionally visiting more playgrounds, enjoying more lakes, and going on more nature walks. Every neighborhood has a #Naturehood that needs to be explored. To help you find a neighborhood park or green space nearby, you can visit DiscoverTheForest.org. These “naturehoods” are just a short-drive away, making it easy for families to unplug from the daily routine and reconnect with nature. DiscoverTheForest.org features an interactive map tool that enables users to search for nearby forests and parks, and filter by zip code and desired activities. Free outdoor activities are also available for download and printing which you can take the next time you visit.
Research has shown that children who play outside have lower stress levels and more active imaginations, become fitter and leaner, develop stronger immune systems and are more likely to become environmentally conscious in the future. For my family, however, I don’t need the research to reinforce what I have already witnessed. As much as we enjoy scheduling educational activities, there is so much learning that takes places outdoors.
3 Benefits of Exploring Nature
Introduction to Science
Exploring nature introduces children to the amazing world of science. From studying bugs to observing animals to learning about plant life, exploring a forest, lake or nature trail helps kids gain knowledge in various scientific fields. While walking you can talk about ecosystems, how plants grow and what animals live in that area. You can also bring along tools such as magnifying glasses, binoculars and bug holders to explore nature even more!
Keeps Kids Fit and Healthy
Kids will have so much fun exploring that they won’t even realize they are getting a great workout. Today’s kids are constantly using electronics. It is so important for them to unplug and get connected with the world around them. Taking a hike through a forest, reservation or arboretum helps children (and adults) grow an appreciation for nature. It helps them stay active and healthy while also learning all about the world that surrounds them. It also enhances gross motor development, balance and coordination!
The most important benefit I have seen is that being outside calms my children down. They are at peace when outdoors and are naturally curious about what the outdoors holds. Kids are able to take in the sunlight and fresh air which provides a sense of calm and tranquility. This allows kids to open their minds to new ideas and possibilities. It expands their imagination and creativity which, in turn, boosts development!
So, what are you waiting for? Get up and get out to Discover the Forest for yourself! If you want to share photos from your outdoor adventures use #ForestFotog or if you want to be inspired to get outdoors see what photos people are taking in their forest explorations!
You may also enjoy: