A different world out there…
Objects that small children encounter in their vicinity on a regular basis influence them in their formative years. They notice cars, elevators, computers and kitchen utensils, which are all man-made things. Yet, the stories we tell them are about animals and jungles; and fairy-tales - far removed from their reality. We think that it is only right. Then, why don't we give more thought to bringing these far-removed objects into their cognitive worlds?
Even in the park, the slides and the swings vie for their attention, but the trees and butterflies escape them. We need to lead our city-slick children by the hand and make them aware of nature, of animate things - a distant reality for many. One way of doing this is to involve them in outdoor activities like bird watching.
Arouse interest in nature
Even in the concrete jungle of our metros, there are always pockets of greenery - gardens and small woods that are an invitation to birds. The city slickers mostly familiar with crows and sparrows may be surprised to discover a whole new world out there. All one needs is a small pair of amateur binoculars. If we can afford expensive toys for our children, why not buy this one? It is not just a toy, but an investment, too.
Armed with binoculars and some grains like bajri or even bread crumbs head to the nearest oasis, with your children's friends in tow. It had better be in the early mornings, when the bird activity is at its peak. For children in the age group of 3 - 5, one may need to keep up a running commentary to keep their interest from flagging. Lead them by talking about the objects they see, such as, the leaves - their shapes and colours, butterflies, snails and other creepy crawlies. Once their interest is aroused enough, they can slowly graduate to spotting birds.
Take them to their roots!
It needs a trained eye to spot a bird hidden among leaves, or when in flight to identify it by its stance or plumage. Birds are elusive. But the flipside is that, due to increased urbanization, birds are becoming bolder or more domesticated. Offering to feed them bread crumbs or roti may tempt some to come closer. Soon, going beyond the pigeons and parrots, children will start spotting bulbuls, tailorbirds, magpie robins, shrikes and countless others. A bird guide can help you give some delightful insights into their habits and tips that you can pass onto the kids at their level.
Bird watching calls for a little discipline. It requires patience, stealth and quiet. Children, as you know, are lacking in all these. But, with a bit of imagination, you can draw them into it as a game that calls for whispering and not talking loudly. It works and when they start enjoying it, they will tag on, willingly. Ornithologists, or professional bird watchers, have interesting experiences to narrate of taking children on bird watching expeditions.
Says one: "children make the most interesting observations about nature around them, from which we ourselves can take a lesson or two!"
Invite Birds Home
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