One thing that's difficult to do as parents is to make sure that your kids not only get enough exercise, but to make sure they get enough time and opportunity to play outside. If you live in a more rural area with access to green spaces or you have a lot of parks or natural areas the problem is oftentimes more a battle against sedentary activities, such as watching television, movies and playing video games, that are so pervasive in our culture.
One way of raising the next generation of environmentalists (I like to call them "stewards of nature"), is to expose your kids early and often to not just the outside, but to the wonder of all the life that teems around us outside the safe bubble of our modern homes.
We try to get our kids outside, but aren't always successful, especially with the wet and rainy weather around here. One thing we like to do is take them down to the beach for low tide. We generally find sea stars, crabs, moon snails, sea anemones by the hundreds, tube worms and lots of other animals.
Now, these are not the spectacular Seaworld style mammals that bring in the crowds, but the everyday critters that inhabit the beaches around here. These are the LBJs of the sea.
If all we do is wow our kids with sea otter tricks, jumping killer whales and stories of deadly sharks and eels, how do they garner respect for the little guys whose lives make those farther up the food chain possible?
I am hoping that with exposure, coupled with education, my kids will learn to enjoy and respect nature and all that it contains and will strive to protect it as well when they are adults.
For those of you parents, or parents-to-be who are interested in reading more, check out Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder.
Or just take your kids outside and let them explore. Something as mundane (or disgusting, depending on your take) as a half-eaten fish head, opens up a world of wonder to a child.
What do you do to encourage your child explore the natural world? Camping, trips to the beach?