Delaware Children In Nature

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Best Practices for Parents

Spending time outside with your children builds a foundation of trust and unity within a family especially when parents exhibit competency and knowledge of the outdoors.


You don't need to be a professional bird watcher, archer or rock climber. You just need to know that how you interact with nature and the outdoors will greatly influence the character and approach of those children who follow your example.


10 Best Practices for Spending Time in Nature with Children


  1. Conduct an attitude check
    1. Getting in a positive state-of-mind goes a long way for outdoor adventures.
    2. Know that not everyone will love the outdoors as much as you - that's your opportunity to teach what a good attitude looks like and sounds like! 
  2. Think ahead
    1. Check the weather before hand.
    2. Just because rain may be forecasted, don't cancel your plans.
  3. Food and water
    1. Always pack extra as energy gets burned up quickly outside.
    2. Take healthy snacks and water instead of sugar-based drinks.
  4. Research your activity or destination
    1. Do an Internet search to find out info about the area (plants, animals, history, etc.)
    2. Are there fees, seasonal conditions, or special events you need to know about?
  5. Tell others your plans
    1. Leave a summary of your trip itinerary with a trusted friend or relative before heading out. This is a good practice to teach kids too.
    2. Communicate your travel plans to your kids as well so they can anticipate your adventure. Think about good conversation starters for your trip.
  6. Encourage curiosity and respect
    1. Practice thinking aloud. Share your thoughts with kids so they begin to learn how to think about and be apart of nature. 
    2. Affirm them when they make good decisions. "I like the way you are walking very carefully so you can see over those rocks." "I notice how gentle you are when you touch those leaves, you must really care about nature!"
  7. Stay with your children first few times
    1. After they've demonstrated a good foundation of nature skills (hiking on the trail, not grabbing poison ivy, swatting at bees, moving slowly along logs, etc.) give them more space to explore and learn.
    2. Encourage them to move out of the comfort a little. This builds trust especially when they know where to always find you.
  8. Set clear boundaries
    1. Show them where they can and cannot play.
    2. Tell them what they can and cannot do, before there is an issue
  9. Talk about ticks
    1. Explain what they look like.
    2. Be sure to do a tick check, and learn how to remove them correctly.
  10. Make the adventure fun
    1. Highlight the positive experiences of the trip.
    2. Afterwards, talk about and reflect on what they learned and what fun they had.