Lately the mention of the word “outside” has your preschooler running for the hills. If they had it their way they’d be content watching tv and snacking all day, but luckily they have you to help them develop a love of nature…after you read these tips for how to help your preschooler want to go outside.
GET IN TOUCH WITH NATURE
A child who loves nature will naturally want to be in it more. Some things you can do to teach your preschooler a love for nature are:
- Plant a garden or tree together
- Identify birds and learn bird calls
- Go camping, even in your own backyard
- Read books about nature
- Visit a nature/science museum
- Have an outdoor scavenger hunt
- Identify different flower colors together
- Collect rocks
One of the easiest ways to build a natural love for the outdoors, is by doing everyday activities outside instead of inside. Have lunch on the patio, read a book under a shade tree, do an arts and crafts project and let it be extra messy. Whatever you’re doing, don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.
LET THEM GET DIRTY
If you send your preschooler out to play in a white shirt and they come back in a white shirt…then did they really even play outside? If your preschooler is worried about getting a lecture about how dirty their brand new t-shirt is when they get done playing, they aren’t likely to really enjoy themselves.
Save the dress clothes for special occasions and send them outside in the Nike shorts and that t-shirt that already has the spaghetti sauce stain on it.
So you turned off the tv, and sent your preschooler out for some play time. Good! Now you can take care of those dishes that are piling up while you watch them play from the kitchen window…
Two plates in and you look up and notice your preschooler is sulking around while unenthusiastically kicking around a rock. You know what’s missing from the picture? You! Have you found yourself using their outside time as your time to get chores done? Maybe just this once the rest of the dishes can wait…you did do two of them after all.
Grab some bubbles, head outside, and watch your preschooler light up as they enjoy spending quality time together while soaking in the sun.
DO WHAT THEY WANT
You decided your preschooler could use a little time outside, and honestly so could you, so you loaded up in the car and headed to your local farmers market. It sounded like a good idea at the time, but now you’re just dragging around a complaining child that wants to go home.
Grab both of you a healthy snack since you’re already there, load back up in the car, and ask your preschooler what they want to do. Maybe they’d love to go to that park you took them to a long time ago with the “cool spinny thingy,” or perhaps you passed by a pasture of horses and your preschooler can’t stop talking about them… how special would a surprise pony ride be?!
Planning outside time based on your preschooler’s interests is a sure way to make sure they enjoy their time outside.
Sometimes telling your preschooler to “go outside and play” can be a little too open ended for them. They go outside, but what should they do once they’re out there? Having an activity planned ahead of time gives your preschooler something to do other than watch the grass grow. Here’s some things you can do to keep the activity going:
Make An Activity Jar
Try writing down a bunch of activities, and putting them in a jar. When your preschooler needs an idea to get them excited to go outside, pull an idea out of the jar! For a list of fun outdoor activities that will have your preschooler begging to go outside, check out Pinterest.
Play A Sport
Getting into a sport as a family is a great way to get your preschooler excited to go outside! What’s more fun than a little friendly competition, while also staying healthy?
Grab the soccer ball and head outside for some Saturday morning fun. Just don’t forget to have a nutritional breakfast first, and take plenty of water breaks.
Go On A Special Trip
When all else fails, head to the zoo. Make sure your preschooler gets to enjoy the wonders of outside beyond their own backyard so they can truly learn to appreciate getting out of the house.
INVITE A FRIEND OVER
Okay so, you do have to get back to those dishes at some point, and nobody likes to play outside all alone. Now is a great time to invite over the neighbor kid, or arrange a surprise visit from your preschooler’s very best friend from school.
Having a friend to play with can immediately turn a boring backyard into an unexplored planet, full of mystery and adventure.
Being outside is all about connecting with the world around us, leaving our worries behind for a little while, and just enjoying being alive. These tips will help your preschooler learn how to not only want to go outside, but develop a love of nature that will last a lifetime.
Dance in the rain, make snow angels, and stay up just a little past bedtime to catch fireflies on a Friday night. Let them enjoy being little now, they won’t stay that way forever.