Remember playing outside? Remember the frustration and do your own homework? Together with our kids we find it more difficult to make them go outdoors and breathe into a much needed fresh air. The average kid spends as few as 30 minutes in unstructured outdoor play each day, and over seven hours every day in front of a digital screen. As parents, we know that a lack of physical activity can take a toll on a child’s physical, psychological and emotional well-being. From childhood obesity into reduced cognitive development, sedentary habits have a host of negative effects on these little bodies and minds. So let’s get our kids up and going to get their everyday dose of activity. It’s up to parents to show children that routine outdoor activity can not be healthy, but a good deal of fun.
Choose the spot
With the weather getting warmer, now is the best time to encourage your children to put down their video games and iPhones to spend a little time soaking up some vitamin D! While older children have many options including organized sports and biking, to get a preschool child that is youthful, it might be up to you to make the outdoors ‘drama’ safe. If you have a backyard, garden or a terrace, create a child zone to watch your son or daughter have a burst outdoors. Taking them out to a playground or common outdoor area would also work as long as you’re able to supervise!
Make it interesting and filthy
Make playtime interesting by handing them a spade or even a or a ball. Don’t be afraid to let them get a little messy. The National Wildlife Federation found that letting children get dirty outside makes them happier and healthier. Children who live within an environment have a better chance of suffering from asthma and allergies than children who have been subjected to healthy bacteria and viruses which boost their immune system.
Make it a family affair
Getting the entire family to spend time outdoors is a great way to encourage kids to bond. Playing a sport with each other, riding bicycles together or planting and tending a garden are some of the actions that the entire family can bond within the excellent outdoors! A picnic lunch in the park, with a few healthy food and the entire family can be a great place to get started spending some time outdoors with your children.
Teach them to appreciate nature
Inculcating an interest and fascination about wildlife is a great way to engage kids outdoors. You are able to get kids interested in nature (birds, insects and animals) through interesting expeditions, photography, drawing and books. Cornell University environmental psychologist Nancy Wells shows that children with a greater exposure to nature have reduced stress levels and longer attention spans.
The benefits of having your children off the couch and out the door are immense. Not only does it keep them healthy, but bonding with nature encourages children to use their imaginations and get creative in a way that can’t be achieved indoors.