Monday, February 23, 2015

Encouraging Children to Learn About Science and Nature

We often hear about how the United States lags behind other countries in science education, but kids have always had an inborn curiosity about the natural world, and all it takes to get them on the right track is a bit of encouragement. 

For example, kids at day camp have long enjoyed fun-filled hands-on activities centered on learning about wildlife, plants, stars and marine critters, getting an invaluable education while making magical camp memories. As parents, you too can help inspire your youngsters to a lifelong interest in science and nature.

Wonders of Wildlife
Kids who are encouraged early to follow their innate curiosity about the natural world often develop science related hobbies and even jobs as they mature. Observation is an important part of teaching kids about nature, and summer day camp counselors have been helping kids identify animal tracks, plants and constellations for generations. Encourage your child to watch a spider spin its web, listen to different bird songs or watch as a caterpillar spins a cocoon and turns into a butterfly; then follow up observations with a visit to the library or an on-line search to learn more.

Growing Things
Kids love to watch things grow, from a simple avocado seed sprouting in a glass on the windowsill to vegetables in the garden. Buy some packaged seeds and watch track their growth with your youngster; it’s even more fun when you’re growing something you’ll actually eat like tomatoes or cucumbers. You can take a simple walk in the woods or neighborhood and identifying different trees and flowers and talking about the seasons of growth. Any of kids myriad questions can start an interesting conversation. Why do the leaves fall in autumn? Do carrots really grow underground? Plant a tree; blow on a dandelion head or make a compost pile.

What better way to fall in love with nature than taking an adventurous tromp through the woods with a group of fellow campers and a knowledgeable counselor? At summer camp, kids have amazing opportunities to learn, explore and get up close and personal with the natural world. Lifting up rocks to find what’s living underneath, catching frogs (and letting them go of course!) at the water’s edge or standing still as a statue to watch a deer in a clearing all provide unforgettable encounters with the natural world and its amazing inhabitants.

Endlessly changing and fun to track, weather is fascinating and delightfully dramatic. Watch the weather report with your kids; observe the sky and clouds at different times of day; look up locations on a map and see how their weather differs; keep a diary of the weather in your own yard with a thermometer or device for measuring rain water; try to figure out how far away lightning is through the sound of thunder. There are so many ways to foster a love of the magic and mystery of weather.

We live in a world powered by energy, and there are so many ways to teach kids the importance of being environmentally aware. From recycling glass, metal and paper around the house to watching how the electric meter changes as you turn things on and off, there are so many ways to observe how we use and how we can conserve energy. You and your youngster can figure out mileage for a family road trip or compute the differences in time involved in going to the store or library on foot, by bike or in the car. Encouraging your child to be environmentally aware can help develop a lifelong interest in science and nature.

Let your kids enjoy the experience of summer day camp at Maplewood Summer Day Camp. Experienced staff will keep your child both safe and busy with arts and crafts, games, water sports, gymnastics and more. Visit the site at to see the fun your child will have at Maplewood Summer Day Camp.

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