Screen time has changed how children learn, advance, develop their attention span and connect with nature. In a world where we are more prone to let Netflix or “educational programming” babysit our children, connecting children with nature is increasingly important. Here are some great ways to get your kids to lay off the screen time, and explore the trees and nature of Westchester County.
Set the Example
Let’s be honest, children learn by example. Set a positive example for your child by making a point to unplug and stop screen time, and opt for an outdoor activity. When you have free time, try to spend it outside. My mother would set aside time each day to weed, water and otherwise tend to her garden; this routine became so normal that I began to appreciate the beauty in the serenity of the process and eventually joined her.
Fun Outdoor Activities
When weaning a child off of screen time, realize that you have to make the new activity just as interesting and exciting.
Planning a day trip to a local tree nursery is a great way to show your child the visual growth of a tree (without a time lapse, of course)! This hands-on experience will invite your child to connect personally with nature. If you are so inclined (and have tested the soil, mapped out a proper zone to plant your tree, and have researched the tree’s needs) purchase a tree to plant together!
The Magic of a Blooming Garden
Never underestimate the magic of a blooming garden. As adults we are aware that flowers come in a variety of beautiful shapes and sizes, but to children, this can be amazing. Visiting a local butterfly garden is a great way to introduce your child to the beauty of nature as well. The variety of bright, eye-catching plants and excitement of fluttering butterflies is sure to keep your child asking questions about nature. Take the day trip a step further by shopping for a tree or shrub which will attract butterflies in your area!
View information regarding the American Museum of Natural History’s Butterfly Conservatory (located in New York) here.
Trees Are Cool
You are the coolest person your child knows (Batman does not count). Set the example by sharing how cool trees are! If you are going to use screen time, make it educational; watch a Netflix documentary on the rainforest with your child during the next movie night or check out live images of California’s breathtaking redwood forest on Google Earth without leaving your living room.
Simply placing a leaf underneath a microscope and letting your child observe will feed their curiosity and imagination. Once you set the groundwork for a positive relationship with nature, your child will likely nurture that their entire life.