Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Today’s post comes from Camille Koon, Ontario Parks Learning and Education Leader.

“The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see.” – Alexandra K. Trenfor, educator

Every child who visits a park should see it as an exciting adventure waiting to unfold. With lakes, rivers, beaches, forests, fields and more, the opportunities for discovery are endless.

By observing the diversity of plants and animals found outdoors, children discover the wonders of nature and develop a deeper appreciation for it.

Here are five ways we can empower all children to become explorers of the world around them.

1. Let the children play

Playing is fun!

There is room for structured and unstructured play in every child’s daily life. Structured play is scheduled activities organized by an adult, such as swimming lessons. Unstructured play is spontaneous, often outdoors and child-led, such as building forts or collecting acorns.

Boy playing in the grass

Structured play contributes to physical fitness, agility and coordination. Unstructured play in natural spaces develops your child’s ability to be creative, curious, learn to take appropriate risks, and navigate team dynamics. Children need both.

2. Visit a discovery center

Ontario Parks has launched a new family program called the Discovery Program.

The goal of the program is to get families actively exploring the parks and connecting with nature in fun and memorable ways.

Discovery table with child.

In the program, Discovery Guides empowers children and families to make their own discoveries and engage with nature using their own life experiences. Discovery guides show you where to look and what tools to use, supporting your search for new and interesting things!

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3. Let curiosity guide you

Explorers are curious. To inspire explorers, we need to motivate, encourage, nurture and celebrate curiosity!

You know that age when kids ask questions incessantly and repeatedly ask you “why”? Why not try playing that game with them?

Bug Finding Collage

When a child asks what something is, instead of telling him what it is, try answering a question.

Ask them what they notice about their colors and patterns. See how it moves together. Ask them what they think the animal is doing and why. There are not correct or incorrect answers.

These types of interactions encourage observation of nature and allow children to draw their own conclusions based on what they observe with you.

By doing so, you act as an explorer. with them, along with the trip. By supporting their curiosity in this way, you are raising a confident young explorer.

4. Wonder of the model

How to build a scout you say? Be one!

By modeling exploration, your children will follow your lead.

Child Examiner Cup

Build sand castles, imagine magical stories in the forest, follow an ant to its home, draw a moth to the feather antennae, turn upside down and observe the world through a magnifying glass.

With a little example, in no time they will take the initiative.

5. Exit

Boy running in the forest

The outdoors is our playground.

Every forest has a story, every grasshopper waits to be named and every stick is a magic wand.

Being in nature is enough.

A child in nature willpower Explore and the benefits are endless.

Let’s all get outdoors together and become explorers!

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