Outdoor playtime is fun, where kids get to enjoy nature as well as engage in many fun physical activities, which are very important for any growing kid. Kids today are not spending enough time taking walks in nature or playing outside. Many parents don’t have the time to take children out to play or do not encourage them to play outside. According to a recent observation by Nell Tray hill, a retired family therapist, “Children are not outside playing like they used to be.”
You can’t really blame children for losing their interest in nature or wanting to play outside less and less. The recent statistical data is quite shocking. The statistics show that 20% of kids have never climbed a tree, 21% have never been to a farm, 28% haven’t been on a country walk in the last year and 64% of kids today play outside less than once a week. Parents are not taking their kids out to play very often or motivating their kids, especially young girls, to go out and play. Boys are 16% more likely to be taken outside for playing.
“Playing outside might be one of the fondest childhood memories for most adults, but researchers now say that they’re not carrying on the tradition for their kids.” – CBS News
1. Create a child friendly front or backyard
We all have memories of our childhood when we could go outside for a ride on our bikes around the neighborhood, build a tree house or had a place that we considered our own. You can let your children’s imaginations take their course and allow some space for them in the front or backyard of your house. A play area for your children doesn’t necessarily have to be made up of concrete, plastic or metal. Let them roll down a slope in the bushes. Your children can use their gift of imagination to have fun outside.
Some safety tips
- Define safety and create rules for playing safely within secured boundaries.
- Allow kids to use their imagination, let them discover and use ‘found’ resources.
- Set aside some space and designate the area for your children.
2. Take indoor toys outdoors
Take the toys your children already play indoors, outside. The change in play environment will allow them to learn new ways to interact and have more fun. They can enjoy and explore indoor toys in new ways. Take toys like blocks, figures, play dough, books, dresses, paint supplies and other creative materials outside. It will open up a whole new world of possibilities.
3. Make use of outdoor extensions of your indoors
Make use of the outdoor spaces of your home with shelters or shade; such as your veranda, porch, deck, balcony or any other sheltered area. Encourage your children to play in these open areas when the temperatures are too hot or too cold.
4. Have your children do some of the chores
Whether it is walking the dog, watering your plants, taking the trash out or pulling weeds out of your garden, have them help you with some outdoor chores. It will help them to develop practical life skills early. Make sure that they have plenty of fun with the chores, suited to their capabilities and level of development.
5. Add water
Children naturally love water. Kids love to splash, pour, stir and just have fun with water by getting wet. Playing with water during the hot days of summer also helps them in their brain development. These cognitive actions also help their mathematical and scientific abilities later on in life.
6. Mess stress
When your children play outside, prepare yourself to clean up their mess as they enter the house. Keep a bucket of water, wash cloth, towels and soap at the backdoor when they enter. It will also minimize sand, soil and mud trails around the house.
7. Visit nearby natural feature or landmarks
Think outside your backyard. If there are any natural features nearby, such as a sea beach, botanical garden, a park or any other natural reserve, your children will enjoy the new settings and environment. Even going out to visit a ranch or farm will also provide your children with a great outdoor environment to explore.
8. Spend more family time together outdoors
You can involve your children more often in family activities outdoors, such as taking a walk in the evening, washing your car in the afternoon or throwing a garden party or barbeque on Saturday mornings. Your children will be more encouraged to spend time outdoors if you involve yourself more often. You can also invite your friends over and make it a social family gathering.
9. Play games with your children
You can involve your children more, both physically and mentally, by playing backyard football, baseball, basketball and other physical games. You could also play trivia games where children will have to name some trees, birds or animals and their habitats.
10. Make it a habit
Make going out a part of your daily routine. Keep a target of spending at least one hour outside with your children. Also, plan for other outdoor activities such as camping, excursions and visits to the beach or visits to the botanical garden regularly.
Finding time to enjoy outdoors with your kids everyday will benefit your kids both physically and mentally. It will also help you to bond with your kids and bond together as a family. Not having enough outdoor time can have long lasting effects on your kids’ physical and mental development.
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Source: Balanced Life Team