Monday, August 11, 2008

Grandkids and Nature

One of the things we can nurture in our grandchildren is a love of nature. The psalmist tells us that “the majesty of God's name fills the earth.” (Psalm 8:9) When we encourage close observation and pleasure in nature, we are really directing attention to the Creator.
My daughter Julie Kaiser wrote about encouraging children to enjoy nature from for a Hearts at Home column in the Bloomington Pantagraph. You can read her observations here.
While Julie was talking specifically about some of the ways parents can encourage a child to explore the natural world around him, her ideas are simple enough for a grandparent to utilize.
We can encourage our grandchildren's natural interest in the world around them. Simply giving them an opportunity to explore is a good beginning. For a grandparent, that might mean making a walk together a regular ritual during the time we spend with our grandchildren.
We can point out things our grandkids might miss, but we can also listen to their observations and questions about what they see and hear and smell.
Here are some other ideas you might find helpful in nurturing your grandchild's love of nature:
* Share your own interest and enthusiasm. When our kids were small, my own father's interest in constellations sparked their interest. What an exciting evening it was when grandpa came to our house to share telescope time!
* Make the natural world part of your conversation with your grandchildren, whether that conversation takes place in person or on the phone, through letters and notes, or by e-mail.
* Make field guides or other educational resources available to your grandchild. The National Wildlife Federation publishes several nature magazines for children, including Your Big Backyard and Ranger Rick.
* Visit local parks, wildlife refuges, and gardens together.
* Encourage your grandchild to sketch, journal, photograph or make an audio recording of what she sees and hears in nature.
No matter how you go about it, sharing a love for God's creation with your grandchildren is a good thing.

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