Is your child inquisitive about nature and how different habitats work? Does he frequently ask questions about where different animals live and what they eat? Does he often wonder about different natural phenomena like the life cycle of a caterpillar or how volcanoes explode?
Your child may be ‘nature smart’. Naturalist intelligence, or as it’s popularly known, ‘nature smart’ is an aptitude some children possess that make them curious about different behaviours and patterns of animals and plants in a natural setting. In his book about multiple intelligences, titled ‘Frames of Mind: The Theory Of Multiple Intelligences’, professor Howard Gardner proposed that there is another kind of intelligence called the naturalist intelligence which is defined by the ‘ability to make consequential distinctions among organisms and entities in the natural world’. Children with these tendencies are interested in subjects like biology, zoology, botany, geology and astronomy from a young age.
Common behaviours of children who are ‘nature smart’
- Observe patterns and anomalies in their surroundings easily
- Good memory for details in their surrounding environment
- Have keen sense of smell and touch
- Like to know trivia about animals and plants
- Loves being outside and engaging in activities like gardening, camping and going for nature walks
- Love to read books or watch documentaries about the various natural phenomena in the world
- Like to make scrapbook or collect natural objects like different kinds of rocks and leaves
- Are extremely aware of the environment and how it is affected by human actions
If these behaviours are similar to how your child acts, he may be a nature smart kid. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to develop his interest in nature and the environment. Here are some ways you can go about it.
Activities to encourage your nature smart child
- Encourage free outdoor play: It’s essential for a child to have some unstructured playtime. This enhances her creative skills as she indulges in imaginative play. But, when you take your nature smart kid outdoors for free play, she can improvise and use different elements of nature to create stories on her own. This will not only help her bond more with nature but also sharpen her observational skills.
- Indulge him in sensory experiences: Children with naturalistic intelligence have a keen sense of smell, sight, hearing and touch. You can enhance his outdoor experience by encouraging him to draw in the sand and listen to the various natural sounds with his eyes closed. You can even conduct a pop quiz and ask him questions based on his experiences, like “What sounds can you hear and who do they belong to?”, “What does the sand feel like?” or “What does wet earth smell like?”
- Conduct nature walks: Children who are nature smart like to spend as much time as they can outside, within a natural setting. You can encourage your child by taking her for short nature walks in the park or arrange for hikes and picnics during the weekends. A nature smart kid thrives in nature and you should give her plenty of opportunities to help her develop her skills.
- Ask him to maintain a journal: Though your child might like to spend all his time outdoors, it’s not feasible to do so. To keep his interest in nature and the environment alive, ask him to maintain a nature journal. He can create a scrapbook based on his observations or collect samples from his time spent outdoors and then come back and study them at home. This will keep his passion for nature alive and he will also learn more by exploring different natural concepts.
- Help him grow a plant: When you have a budding environmentalist at home, the best gift you can give her is the responsibility of taking care of plants. Whether it’s growing flowers, a vegetable garden or just a herb, teach her how to take care of these plants so they thrive. Seeing a plant grow from seed to a sapling into a plant can be a very inspiring experience for a nature smart child. Help her out whenever she has questions about them and help her connect with nature in a meaningful way.
- Create a natural masterpiece: Nature is beautiful and is a great source for artistic inspirations. Help your child build a masterpiece with the help of twigs, pebbles and leaves or encourage him to draw a beautiful scenery based on all he’s seen and experienced so far. Use nature to bring out the artistic side of your nature smart kid and help him develop his creative skills.
- Use nature to explain concepts: Whether it’s science, geography or historical facts, explain concepts to your child by referring to nature and how it works. For scientific understanding, you can explain to her the science behind various phenomena, in geography you can describe the differences between flora and fauna based on their locations and for history you can describe how natural events shaped the history of the planet.
Mother earth can be a wonderful teacher. And if your child has a natural aptitude for it and is interested to learn more, help him by giving him as many opportunities as possible. After all, an environmental warrior not only earns everyone’s respect, but he also helps save the planet.
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