There can be few greater joys for a young child than being exposed to the natural world at a young age. Those early days of catching frogs, chasing butterflies and feeling the bark of a tree is a gift. It’s also natural, especially for boys; I give Fynn a net, he says ‘let’s go catch frogs !’
They don’t know it yet, but introducing children to the natural world on their own terms allows for a subconscious appreciation of the world in which they are connected to, are part of. It also stimulates their curiosity.
As much as they enhance skills probably essential to our children’s social and professional development, iPads and phones are not part of their natural world. This randomly selected link speaks to that subject http://www.pbs.org/parents/childrenandmedia/article-when-introduce-child-smartphone-tablet.html.
Nets are good for frogs, almost essential. A bucket of sorts is useful for holding the creatures caught. My son likes to catch them with his hands when a net isn’t available, as in the picture below with his mate and her two children in one of the ponds at Kistenbosch Botanical gardens*. ‘Hey dad, check this out” or ‘I’ve got one!’ he shouts, pure happiness ringing out across the weekday afternoon ripples. When it’s hot, this is literally a cool environment for the children (and you).
Some adults, probably most, don’t like slimy and squirmy things in their hands. Probably because they never held them as little children. Much like I’ve always hated slugs, and snails.
I got over that manic wriggling of worms when I got my own worm farm, and the snails, oh the snails…I eventually ate one in my 30-somethings in yes, France, which incidentally tasted like a mushroom vol-au-vent.
Frogs are easy to handle, and their little hearts tire quickly. So tempering my boy’s sometimes relentless pursuit is sometimes necessary, with the little amphibian’s legs simply unable to kick anymore. Putting them in a container or lunchbowl allows the kids to return and check their haul when it’s time to call it a day.
So allowing them to play and hold such things now is really doing them a favour. Especially the guys. Apart from that, for children there large lawns in beautifully manicured gardens (no ball sports) paved paths, dirt-trails and the funky, designer tree canopy-bridge called ‘boomslang’. Perfect for picnics.