Living through a global pandemic that restricts our social interactions and even requires quarantining is no fun for any of us, especially kids. Depending on where you live, your child's school may be closed, events canceled, classes and sports put on hold— or you might face a fine for venturing outdoors.
Though many parts of the world (fortunately) have not been required to quarantine yet, many of us are wisely practicing social distancing, which The Atlantic describes as “a conscious effort to reduce close contact between people and hopefully stymie community transmission of the virus.”
Under this new and evolving condition, many parents are wondering how to keep their kids healthy and happy during this time. We have an elegant solution for them: nature (yes, you probably knew that ahead of time).
With no surfaces to touch, no crowding, fresh air, loads of Vitamin D and a calming boost for our mental health, nature is the place to be right now, especially if you know of spots that will not be teeming with other people. Consider these ideas for your family as we learn that social distancing can bring us closer to nature.
Stay Local- Very Local
Let your kids play outside in your yard if it's yours to use exclusively. As long as they're feeling well, there's no reason why children can't play outside in the backyard, alone or with siblings.
And what about playgrounds? Dr. Elizabeth Burnett, Professor of Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine, explained “Going outside is permissible, as long as it does not result in coming into contact with other people." This might make visits to most playgrounds difficult. And then there are the surfaces on play equipment, which is certain to breed germs and not be sanitized frequently enough.
If the backyard elicits a bored look from your kids, help them give micronature exploration a try or try any of these backyard-friendly ideas found in our very own Activity Finder!
Want to know a secret about birding? It's best done quietly and in a small group. While group birding is excellent for sharing spotting scopes and borrowing the expertise of lifelong, expert birders, birding is an activity that really benefits from keeping things small and quiet, so you don't scare off the birds!
Use the social distancing climate to head off to a quiet spot early in the morning with your kids so they can experience the magic of the world of birds. Not sure how to start? Don't worry! We thought of that and it's all in our "How To Start Birding with Kids" guide.
Join your local Audubon Chapter or get a state park pass and head out to visit a (hopefully unknown and obscure) state park or sanctuary. Audubon has 23 state programs and 450+ local chapters, so there is likely to be one near you.
Turn the experience up a notch and help your child take on a nature-based project like a wildlife film or a nature photography exhibit. Observing and photographing or filming nature is an enriching hobby that helps your child observe and learn in nature. To be a good nature photographer or filmmaker, your child will have to learn how to be a "quiet observer," practicing patience and bodily control as they look for signs of how wildlife uses habitat for food, water, cover, a place to raise young. This is an excellent way for any child to experience tuning into the natural world and connecting with nature.
Find Solace in the Moon
Not only will fewer people (and germs) be out at night, but your kids will love getting out at night. It's a new and exciting experience for them.
Stargazing with kids is a fun way to enjoy the night sky and nurture your kids' love for science. Of course, half the fun of stargazing is watching your kids delight at the world around them.
A walk under the moon is a great way to spend time together as a family. Encourage your kids to spend some time under the stars by taking on the role of moon observer. Our free and downloadable moon journal is a great way to get them into it.