How can I encourage my son to play outside and enjoy nature?


To take advantage of your son’s natural curiosity, provide him with plenty of opportunities to explore nature using all of his senses. For example, go for a nature walk and let him have fun navigating his way through rocks, mud, snow, tree branches, and roots. You can also give your child a bucket to collect leaves, acorns, pinecones, or any other “treasure” he finds. Create a scavenger hunt that includes different sounds, animals, plants, and trees, and work together as a family to find all of the items on your list. If you are not able to venture that far from your home, there are many fun things you can do in your own backyard. Give your child a plastic shovel, and let him dig for worms in your garden. Another fun idea is to simply get out some chalk and let him paint rocks, the pavement, or even the fence. It might get messy, but that’s part of the fun!

Jennie Ito, Ph.D.

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