NA­TURE CALLS

Parenting - - Time Out -

Lim­it­ing time in front of screens, on tablets and un­der head­phones doesn’t al­ways have to make you feel like a tough par­ent. In­spir­ing your chil­dren to ex­pe­ri­ence the out­doors and en­gag­ing with na­ture can be equally, if not more ex­cit­ing - if you let them know what’s in it for them.

As New Zealan­ders we have land and sea at our fin­ger­tips and as par­ents it’s our priv­i­lege, if not our duty, to get as much sand be­tween our chil­dren’s toes and soil un­der their lit­tle nails as pos­si­ble. Set­ting them up with a con­nec­tion to the nat­u­ral world will last their life­time. And it’s not just our gut feel­ing draw­ing us out­doors. On­go­ing re­search recog­nises that en­gross­ing our chil­dren’s senses, par­tic­u­larly when they’re at the ripe age of be­tween six and 10, helps them take own­er­ship of our en­vi­ron­ment and de­velop be­hav­iour greatly needed for a sus­tain­able fu­ture.

So how could we pos­si­bly con­vince them to trade in their ipad for a pair of train­ers and an open mind? Per­haps guide them to the direc­tory of ad­ven­tures and ac­tiv­i­ties on­line where they can ex­plore des­ti­na­tions, down­load maps and plan the next fam­ily out­ing with your help. And why would they want to do that? Be­cause it’s an op­por­tu­nity to go as far as your sur­round­ing na­tional parks, re­serves, beaches or as near as the back fence to earn a Kiwi Guardian medal – and for some of the older sib­lings, per­haps some ‘gram wor­thy’ land­scapes too.

Lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions pas­sion­ate about mak­ing it easy to ex­plore and pro­tect our nearby spa­ces – Toy­ota New Zealand and the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion, have founded a pro­gramme that gets kids into na­ture and re­wards them for it, all while mak­ing it sim­ple and fun for fam­i­lies. Kiwi Guardian medals are easy to re­deem - all you need to do is take ac­tion in an ac­tiv­ity or visit a Guardian Post nearby. Dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties re­ward dif­fer­ent medals so it won’t take long to gain mo­men­tum be­fore your child is beg­ging to get out from be­hind their screens and into the out­doors.

Ex­plore the ac­tiv­i­ties on­line at ki­wi­guardians.co.nz and dis­cover how you can help your child get ex­cited about na­ture.

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