Spending time outdoors, immersed in nature is undoubtedly beneficial. It reduces stress, promotes physical activity and fosters an overall sense of appreciation for the beauty that surrounds us.
A number of studies support this simple notion – being outside is good for you. Exposing children to nature and teaching them about environmental conservation is a wonderful way to raise up adults who will have a lifelong respect for nature, wildlife and plants.
Here are five simple ways to help children of any age be young stewards of the world around them:
Start with simple green habits.
Even young children can recycle paper and plastics. Teach them to turn off the water while brushing their teeth, take reusable bags to the grocery store or switch off the lights when they leave a room. It won’t take long for these simple steps to develop into habits they carry with them into adulthood.
Plan a family hike or camping trip.
Depending on the age of your children, you can do a short walk in a state or country park or plan an overnight camping trip. Experiences like this are especially great for kids who spend a lot of time in the city and suburbs. They have the chance to get up close and personal with nature.
Explain how our actions have consequences.
Don’t just tell your children not to litter but rather explain how trash can end up in the ocean or waterways and harm animals and sea life. Most children love animals and will be eager to take any action to protect them.
Lead by example.
If you don’t litter, encourage recycling and have an overall attitude of respect for the environment, your children will pick up on that and follow your lead.
Attend community events and educational opportunities.
The Charleston area has plenty of parks, conservation organizations and activities to help children learn about wildlife and the environment. The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition on Feb. 12-14 brings many of these organizations together in one place. The annual expo has a number of demonstrations, exhibitors and programs of interest to children. Plus, children will surely enjoy a live animal presentation with animal expert, TV personality and author Jack Hanna.
Simply exposing children to activities, organizations and events like SEWE will help them understand the way humans and nature interact, that actions have consequences and even the smallest acts of conservation can make a big difference.