Here’s how to raise outdoor kids
As parents we want the best for our kids. We want them to be happy, healthy and inspired. That’s why this book was written. I wanted to take a child’s natural sense of awe, wonder (and often limitless amount of questions!) and turn it into a love of the outdoors and a sense of self and independence.
How To Raise Outdoor Kids builds on the rose-tinted idyllic childhoods of the 70s and 80s, where kids would explore, ride their bikes till the street lights came on and build wonky treehouses – and transforms this memory into a modern-day inspiration where kids can still feed their sense of adventure – but safely and in keeping with the times.
We all want our kids to be the best they can be. We want them to enjoy the outdoors – but not every kid has the knowhow or the confidence to just get out there. So that’s why I’ve spoken to experts, from scientists, to occupational therapists to arborists to find out how we can spark the delight in every child and get them off their screens – and into green. This book has 29 chapters – and I know your kid’s imagination will be fired in many of them.
Whether they’re an active kid, or one who prefers to lie back and daydream, there’s an activity in here for them (and for you). Whether it’s cloud spotting, hiking, building an insect hotel, community gardening or kitchen science – this book is packed with ideas and activities for kids. Some of Australia’s best scientists and researchers have shared their ideas with us, and you – who doesn’t love learning while you’re having fun?
If you live in the city, the bush, or by the coast – in an apartment, a van or a house – there’s ideas for you. How To Raise Outdoor Kids is inclusive: it’s aimed at ensuring all kids can find their niche and follow their dreams in this big, beautiful country we call our own.
Kids that prefer to dive right in to an activity are catered for, as are those who need a gentler, slower introduction. My suggestion is to read the book along with your child and come up with plans of what you’d like to do now, in the future, and maybe one day. They can take baby steps into an activity – or great, big giant embraceable strides – whatever suits them!
Kids can make a bee-friendly garden that could be as huge as one that’s swarming all around a big house on an acreage, or as teeny as a pot on a window sill. Or they could build a verge garden around the footpath that’s friendly to people and your local insect and bird communities.
This book is aimed at opening a child’s eyes to possibilities. To show them just how much there is to see, hear, smell and touch in their neighbourhoods and beyond. To show them what they can be if they live their dreams.
We know it’s important to get kids outdoors to engage their bodies and their minds. It’s vital for their physical and mental wellbeing – something that every expert I spoke to for this book emphasised. There’s no more important time than our childhood to build good bones and muscles – and memories. This book can help you do all of that.
It’s also a book that reinforces the need for kids to love and respect the planet. Speaking with First Nations people for this book, they told of their deep connection with the land and their commitment to its ongoing protection. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are the original and ongoing custodians of our land, the skies and our waters. We can learn so much from them.
Want to encourage independence in your kids? This is the book for you. Keen for more family-time? Here’s a book for you. Want to nurture and nourish your child’s individuality – (yep, you guessed it, this is the book for you). It’s the book I wish I had when I raised my kid. I hope you enjoy it.
Top Tips for getting kids outside
Make it fun – may I suggest Going Around the Block, Upcycling and Old Skool Games
Make it COOL – head to chapters on The Night Sky, Science Experiments and Dining under the stars
Make it simple – go to chapters on Head in the Clouds, Nature Table and Beaches and Coasts
Make it bold – chapters on finding fossils, taking a hike and going on a road trip is where it’s at
Make it independent – just read every chapter, bar none.
The most important thing is that this kind of fun should always be child-led. Show them what’s achievable – and then let them run wild!
Linda Drummond is a science communicator who spends her days working with researchers and sharing their science with the world. She lives on Awabakal Land in NSW and loves to write almost as much as she loves to read. She has a daughter, a husband and a purely indoors cat. She gardens, she cycles and she loves spotting clouds. She hopes you like this book.