By Shehnaz Toorawa
Writer, teacher - U.S.A.
As the days lengthen and the weather warms, parents search for halal ways to keep their children amused. Along with trips to amusement parks, swimming lessons, and barbeque parties, consider a simple walk in the neighborhood park or conservation area. With a little creativity, your kids can gain numerous benefits from a walk in the forest.
Grab the Opportunity to
Do some hands-on science. Touch and observe the nature around you and talk about what you see. Pick up acorns and ask your children, "What's inside?" and "How does it get there?" Discuss the "green stuff" growing on a rock. See if you notice signs of succession, or ask your kids why the leaves are green in summer. Let your children's natural curiosity guide the learning process. You don't have to know all the answers. Take some samples home for further experiments, research, or show and tell.
Remember Allah Ta'ala. Ask your children who created the things around them. Encourage them to point out signs of Allah Ta'ala's existence and to praise Allah Ta'ala when they see something that amazes them. Remind them of verses in the Qur'an about nature such as this:
[And He causes to grow for you thereby herbage, and the olives, and the palm trees, and the grapes, and of all the fruits; most surely there is a sign in this for a people who reflect.] (An-Nahl 16:11)
Get some exercise. Children ften spend their day in stationary activities like sitting at the desk at school, watching television, playing video and computer games, and surfing the Internet. A walk gives them the chance to stretch their bodies, release pent-up energy, and refresh their minds.
Appreciate art and beauty Share the natural beauty in Allah's creation. Reflect on the colors, aromas, shapes, and lines you see in the nature around you. If art interests your kids, encourage them to draw, paint, or take photographs of what they see.
Learn to conserve. Ask your kids how the resources they see benefit us and how we abuse them. Remind them of their responsibility toward the environment, as Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him said), "The world is sweet and green (alluring) and verily Allah is going to install you as vicegerent in it in order to see how you act" (Muslim 36:6606). Brainstorm on the ways you and your children can change your lifestyle to protect these resources.
Identify species and sounds. Pick up books from the library and help your kids identify the tress, flowers, and the birds you see. Learn the names of the local birds and animals. Observe their habits, and then count how many you can spot.
Start a collection. Children love to collect. Find something that interests your kids — leaves, wildflowers, insects, pebbles — and help them collect, label, and display their collection. Show them how to collect without damaging nature.
Strengthen your bond. Talk about school, work, friends, and future plans as you walk. The time you spend together on weekly walks will strengthen your relationship with your kids.
Clear their mind and lungs. You and your kids will appreciate fresh air and a peaceful break after a busy day indoors.
Pick up navigation skills. Take a map and compass on your walks. Plan a route together, and follow it on the map and learn to use a compass as you go. If you spot a feature that is not on your map, add it.
Fi Amani Allah