3. Become a Weather Warrior
As a culture, we are plagued with a “pandemic of inactivity,” says Louv, who argues that rain, sleet, heat, or snow are no reason to stay inside. Show your kids how to tap into the beauty of all the seasons. In winter, freeze sheets of black construction paper and use them to catch and examine falling snowflakes (they won’t melt on contact) with a small magnifier. Keep an “instant snowman” kit at the ready: rocks or black buttons for eyes; hats and scarves; a carrot nose; twig arms.When spring rains come, make a rain-gauge. In summer, plan family picnics in the park; come fall, hunt and gather leaves, acorns, seed pods, and other collections in a clear, glass “wonder bowl” on the kitchen counter.
4. Expand Perimeters
An acquaintance recently told me that when her son was high school, he used to get up at 5 a.m., fill two glass jugs with boiling water, and drive an hour across the Golden Gate Bridge with his friends into San Francisco to surf before class. When he was done, he’d rinse himself off with the hot water and drive to school in time for the first bell. I love this story because it reminds all of us that as children grow, their geographic boundaries will expand naturally. It’s our job as parents to allow this to happen. Keep little ones close at hand or within view outside but as they grow, encourage them to develop their own relationship with nature, whether it’s through finding their own contemplative “sit-spot” to quietly observe the plant and animal life and weather or, as they reach middle school and high school, exploring the neighborhood by bike, meeting friends for nature walks, or starting their own hiking clubs.