The Importance of Outdoor Play
Outdoor play and nature activities are good for kids. But dragging them away from TV, computer and video game screens long enough to enjoy the great outdoors is a parent’s challenge.
According to recent research, a lack of direct contact with nature is leaving our children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, performing poorly in school and more stressed than a generation ago.
Breaking a child’s habit of time spent watching TV, playing video games and using a computer is not easy and doesn’t have to be done suddenly. Turning off electronics cold turkey and pushing a child out the door won’t allow him to enjoy the outdoors to full potential.
Parents can offer fun, outdoor alternatives to an electronic screen and gradually increase the time spent outdoors. Here are some ways to get your children to spend more time outdoors.
Walk Instead of Drive
Instead of driving to your child’s extracurricular activities, errands and shopping, make the journey getting their part of the outdoor fun. Leave early, wear sneakers or good walking shoes and walk to the things you normally drive to.
If all of your errands are too far from home, park your car several blocks away and trek over to where you’re going. Even city or suburb walking can be a nature walk or outdoor adventure. Point out interesting architecture, flowers, landscaping, and insects to your child.
Take Indoor Activities Outdoors
Who says breakfast has to be eaten at the kitchen table and crafts have to be done indoors? Set up a picnic table in your back yard and start enjoying meals, snacks, arts and crafts, and other projects outside.
Plant a Garden
When children get interested in something that simply must be done outside, they’ll want to get out there, regardless of what’s on TV. Turn over a corner of the yard to your child to plant with whatever he wants – flowers, herbs or vegetable plants. Help him learn how the plants should be cared for and encourage him to tend to his garden every day. Kids’ gardening projects are a great way to teach about the science of nature.
Offering a child a space for their very own garden also helps raise their interest. Growing your very OWN garden is exciting enough but then when you ad a fairy or two, well, that brings it to a whole new level. My Fairy Garden is not just a garden, it is a garden where imagination takes place! Providing a connection with nature, enchantment and nurturing… it’s a win-win!
Inside each My Fairy Garden Kit, comes a Tree Hollow that is a multi-level planter with soil, quick-germinating seeds, a bunny, a fairy, gardening accessories, and tools. The tree hollow has opening doors so the fairy can go inside the tree hollow to “play” (and be stored). You can purchase an additional fairy or two to play along!
Start a Neighborhood Outdoor Playgroup
There’s strength in numbers. Parents having a tough time dragging their kids outside might have an easier time if all the other kids are outdoors. Start a neighborhood playgroup in which a group of children and parents meet in a back yard, playground or neighborhood park once a week or more.
Take the Kids to the Community Pool
A trip to the pool can be a load of fun plus children are typically extremely active when in water. One way to get older children active instead of just sitting on the edge of the pool to soak up the sun is by providing them with toys such as the PlayMonster Aqua Diver. Throw the squid in the water and as soon as it hits the water, a timer will begin. Kids (or even adults) can race to see who can find the squid from the bottom of the pool, hit the timer and beat either their own time or compete against each other’s time.
Play Some Nature Games
Give your child a list of things found in nature – an ant hill, a spider web, pine cone, reddish-brown rock – and see how long it takes him to find everything on the list.
There are many types of ride on toys. Riding outside allows your child to get fresh air, step away from screen time, and soak up some vitamin D. Ride-on toys such as the PlayMonster, Free Wheelin’ Rider Convertible Balance Bike allows children to enjoy being outdoors even more but it also has other HUGE benefits.
The balance bike does just that. It allows children to increase their balance by starting out with three wheels and then move to two wheels once they have mastered balancing on three wheel. Since children are pushing the bike with their feet, they are also getting a good bit of exercise.
The Free Wheelin’ Bike is available in green, blue, pink, grey, red and orange. The mama of these two (almost three) year old boys sent me a message that speaks volumes of these bikes!
When I say “all day” I mean ALL day, since 7:50am, before eating breakfast, we’ve been on “motorcycles”😂 Thanks again. They love them!
Parents can offer fun, exciting alternatives to indoor play that will soon have their children begging to go outdoors.