Over the past six years in Centennial Parklands our expert nature play educators have worked with thousands of families to create a culture of nature connected kids and caregivers. Here are some of our educators' top tips for parents who want to raise nature-friendly kids.
Be a hummingbird, not a helicopter
Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, talks about how caregivers’ interactions with their children outside should be like a hummingbird.
To do this, leave some physical distance between yourself and your children to give them the opportunity to create their own play, engage their imaginations and to take risks, allowing for a richer experience without adult intervention or hovering.
Keep a (bird's eye) out
As a hummingbird parent it is still important to avoid spending too much time checking your phone, as it is through careful observation that you will know when to fly in. This might be when children have come up against a difficulty that they can’t overcome, are in imminent danger, or may need a little bit of inspiration to want to keep playing. Once they are back on track it is time to fly out.
If you are having a fun time and enjoying all aspects of the great outdoors (including the range of weather and creepy crawlies) then it becomes infectious. If we love the rain, then our children will love the rain, if we show amazement in our wildlife so will our kids. As soon as we take a negative position this can be like a full stop at the end of a sentence, it can end the enquiry and the joy.
Think about yourself as a mirror for your family, because actions and words have a big influence on how our children engage. If we as adults can show that we can get out of our own comfort zones then our children will be more resilient in the ways of the world.
Meet our experts
Sam Crosby is a respected trailblazer in the nature play sector, developing new philosophies and creating innovative programs that enable more children to connect with nature, the bush and their unique Australian heritage.
Sam will be speaking at the inaugural Nature Play Australia Childhood Summit 2019. Her workshop Effective nature mentoring for parents, guardians, and educators will invite discussion and offer hands-on guidence for adults in this field.
Look out for part two of Sam's top tips for nature-friendly families on our stories page, or find out more about Centennial Parkland's next Nature Play for Families event.
Check out Sam in this video about the benefits of nature play