Teaching our children to respect and care for the environment is crucially important for everyone, as global warming is changing the world around us at an alarming rate. It can seem daunting for any one person to feel like they can do something to make real change, but there are small things we can do to inspire a love of nature in our children and give them the tools to protect it.  

It starts with our own practices, for example - While it may not seem like the worst thing to toss an apple core into a bush (it’s natural after all!) in reality an apple core can take two months to decompose, and organic picnic remains can quickly pile up from multiple families into an eyesore. 

Leave no Trace Principals 

Leave no Trace sets out seven simple rules to help everyone enjoy the outdoors responsibly. The full list can be found at www.leavenotrace.org, but the most pertinent ones for the average family walking in the woods and hills of the Ballyhoura region are: Plan ahead and PrepareRespect Farm Animals & Wildlife, Leave and Dispose of Waste Properly. 

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare ensuring you have appropriate clothing & equipment 
  1. Respect Farm Animals & Wildlife – Leash dogs around livestock, leave gates as they are found 
  1. Leave What You Find – ‘Take only photos, leave only footprints’ is the common refrain.  
  1. Dispose of Waste Properly - As part of planning ahead, bring a small bag for wet rubbish.  

Putting it all into practice 

These are great principles but how does it all look in practice? Involve your child in a conversation about each step. For a long walk in the forest, you might pack a picnic, with a bag to carry wet rubbish home with you to avoid disposing of the waste. When your child eagerly runs to pick a crop of flowers, remind them that if everyone did that there wouldn’t be anything left to admire – but feel free to let them take as many pictures as they like. As you pass through farmland, leave gates as you find them and explain why to your child, keep dogs leashed around farm animals. 

Are you up for the challenge? Let our new printable activity guides inspire you.

Week 4 is a competitive foraging activity bound to spark interest in the outdoors 

Click here to Download

This post is part of our larger toddler and nature series. Please stay tuned for more and check out our Welly Waddlers Workshops, where you can see the benefits of hands-on nature-play first hand with your little one.

To find out more or to enquire please contact us at [email protected] or on 063 91300.

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