Fresh air and physical activity are great for growing bodies. But did you know nature could be a key to success in other areas of life? Consider using this Earth Day as a starting point to incorporate nature into your child’s world. Riverbend Environmental Education Center compiled four easy ways to get started.

  1. Instill confidence. Spending time in nature builds confidence, allowing children to experience risk and overcome physical trials. Challenge your family to get outside at least once a day, regardless of the weather, even if it’s for just a few minutes. Encourage kids to take small risks in a safe environment. Navigate rocks in a local stream, play in the mud and get dirty! If a backyard isn’t available, there are free nature preserves like Riverbend around the region.
  1. Lower stress. When children spend time in nature, they tend to be less stressed and are even primed for greater academic learning. An easy activity to do with your children is to take them outside and play the senses game. Have them explore what’s around them for two minutes without making a sound. What do they hear, see, smell or feel? While focusing on nature, worries tend to leave the mind.
  1. Build science and social skills: Have an older child? Get involved in a citizen science project to share the things you find that relate to your current science curriculum. At Riverbend, students learn about ecosystems by conducting a bioblitz (nature scavenger hunt) and using social apps such as iNaturalist to document and share their amazing nature findings with people across the country.
  1. Use summer break wisely. Spending time in nature over the summer months allows children to develop strong brain connections between what they are learning in the classroom and their daily lives.  Concepts such as ecosystems and animal adaptations are reinforced when children experience them first-hand in a daily summer camp experience. Riverbend’s summer camp incorporates curiosity, exploration and inquiry with nature. Most campers fall in love with nature over the week and carry those memories through life.

Whether it’s starting small with a nature walk or getting involved in a national science project, your child will gain the confidence and the knowledge to succeed in life. Riverbend Environmental Education Center offers programs such as field trips, summer camps, birthday parties and more that use nature as a classroom. Visit www.riverbendeec.org to find the program that works for your family!