Screen out this summer
Think you should unplug the kids more often this summer?Terra Wellington author of, The Mom’s Guide to Growing Your Family Green: Saving the Earth Begins at Home, suggests that it’s wise to not only get them out from behind the computer screen, but the screen door as well.
“Studies show that children concentrate better, are better behaved, have improved health, and obtain a deeper appreciation for nature when they are exposed to greenscape and wildlife on a regular basis,” she says.
She points to several recent studies which suggest that getting kids back outside exploring nature and wildlife not only helps to combat childhood obesity, but may also be beneficial for children with ADHD. And while according to the U.S. Travel Association, 54 percent of American households are planning to take at least one leisure trip this summer, many more plan to take more day trips or long weekend getaways in lieu of week-long vacations. This may be an excellent time to visit those local destinations focused on nature.
Wellington says to begin by “taking your children to a zoo or aquarium. It is an easy and fun way to diversify entertainment options, while also offering a painless way to subtly educate on taking care of our natural world and get your child up off the couch.”
She offers more quick tips to get in touch with nature this summer.
~ Check out any of the new exhibits at your area at zoos, aquariums, gardens or nature centers. Talking to your children about something new to explore generates natural interest.
~ Visit U-pick farms. Not only is the activity itself fun, but that fruit of your labor is another family activity when you come home to make a pie or homemade jam.
~ Seek out touching opportunities. Nature centers, parks, zoos and aquariums often offer different “exploring stations” where “your children can touch, hold, and smell wildlife and other natural objects. Children are captivated and stimulated by being able to use their senses.”
~ Add challenge or risk for older kids. Older teens need more challenging activities to keep them interested, so investigate camp programs like kayaking, fishing or other more adult-oriented activities that offer a challenge.
And finally, don’t forget about your own backyard. Plant a garden together or even just a native plant or bush. Container gardening is especially fun and practical for small children. Let them choose their own seeds of what they like to eat, and watch it--and your child--grow with the experience.
-- Tracey Henry, the Suburban Diva