As children most of us grew up amidst greenery and open country. Even cities like Delhi and Bangalore were less crowded, with more gardens and open spaces. There was lessTV and more opportunities to play outdoor games with our friends. Unfortunately, increasingly our children have no such opportunities. It’s become even more important, therefore, to provide opportunity for your child to discover and appreciate nature.
Visit the Zoo – With a little preparation, a Zoo visit can be a perfect learning experience as well as fun for your children.
- Before the visit
- Read a story about animals or the Zoo to your child
- Show her pictures of the various animals.
- For older children give some information on how the zoo is needed to study and learn about animal behaviour, to provide safe habitat for endangered animals and to provide people with an opportunity to see exotic animals they may never get to see otherwise. Tell them about extinct species and those on the endangered species list.
- Give some age appropriate information on habitats and diet and characteristics of different animals.
During the visit.
- Don’t be in a hurry. Take your time and don’t run from exhibit to exhibit in an effort to see everything. If you are short of time concentrate on a few exhibits. But spend time looking at the animals, listening to the sounds they make and observing their habits.
- Ask your children thought-provoking questions – which elephant appears to be the boss?
- Show the child the different types of feet, beaks, body coverings, tails etc.
- Make the entire outing more memorable by treating children to some favourite food or activity afterwards.
- After the visit
- Discuss what you saw with them.
- Ask older children to write a 250 word essay on the visit.
The same techniques can be applied to all other trips and vacations also. If you can’t go anywhere else take time to got to the nearest park.
- Show the children the different shades of green -the green of the grass, the spring green of new leaves, the darker green of old ones, green-yellow of leaves about to fall.
- Lie on the grass and look at the different shapes of the clouds.
- See the different flowers with different colours and count the number of petals. Tell your children their names.
- Feel the fresh air and the warmth of the sun, smell the fragrance of all the blossoms, listen to the breeze whispering through the leaves, the bees buzzing contentedly and watch the squirrels scamper up and down trees.
- Splash in the rain.
Your children need to feel the peace of natural surroundings to enable them to combat the stresses of urban life.
Make a terrace garden or atleast plant a few pots and put them in the family room. Involve your children in planting and caring for the plants.
Encourage the children to make a Scrap Book or Travel Book of all their visits to parks and the zoo. This will not only bring them closer to nature but will also inculcate the habit of reading and writing.
Paying attention to the beauty all around you, gives children a wonderful learning experience distinct from reading about such things or seeing a picture in a book or TV. It brings a sense of fun an understanding and compassion for life, whether plant or animal. It teaches children about the rhythms of life through observing the seasons. And it makes their lives richer for the wonderful memories.