It can be challenging to get kids to spend time outdoors.
In the past few years, technology advanced so much that everybody, and especially kids, spend more and more time inside playing with and using all kinds of gadgets, consoles, and devices to have some fun while distracting themselves from the real world.
Specialists suggest that we reduce this amount of time spent in front of screens and increase the time spent outside, surrounded by nature.
You could say it’s not that easy with all the things we have to do, with all the parents that are busy all the time and prefer to let their children play video games and watching TV so that they can finish whatever they have to do regarding work and chores.
We all agree, this is the easiest way to make everybody happy, but it’s not as healthy as we think because of many reasons.
Eyes can get damaged; the brain stops functioning as it should be with all the images changing every (at least) 3 seconds, socializing became a personality trait that fewer and fewer children have because of not exercising enough.
Besides, parents got more and more worried about their children not getting in contact with a wide variety of bacteria that we can find outside, and when they take their children to outdoor playgrounds, they don’t let them play as they should.
This is also important for them because how else will they get all the antibodies they need to have a healthy life in the future?
We thought of some suggestions on how to encourage your kids to spend more time outside and what activities they should have so they can get the best out of the whole experience.
It is important to remember that learning happens through interaction with our environment. We learn through what we do. Letting children come up with ideas important to them, avoiding prescribed activities, taking time, and being patient provides space for creativity to emerge. Whatever the activity – whether a walk in the woods, drawing a picture, experimenting with a recipe or what might seem like just fooling around – letting kids, particularly young ones explore in unstructured ways helps them understand their world and cultivate deeper interest. – Stephen Uzzo, Chief Scientist, New York Hall of Science and Adjunct Professor, Teaching and Learning, New York Institute of Technology Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Mindfulness is one of the most effective relaxation techniques and, it’s true, you can do it wherever you want.
But why not do it outside when you can?
There are some fun and playful mindfulness games for children that you can teach your kids and, why not, practice with them side by side.
This relaxation technique is great to decrease anxiety and stress in children, and it’s good, especially when you know your kids have a lot on their young minds when they have a lot of extracurricular activities and passions.
As life is more and more complicated since the moment they are born, they need something to help them be aware of the simple things that surround them and, most importantly, of themselves as human beings.
There are mindfulness exercises to fit all stages of development in children, from birth to teenage years, when everything becomes overwhelming.
Why it’s important to start it early in life?
Because the habits they get when they are young will most probably stay with them for the rest or most of their lives.
Besides, mindfulness promotes happiness, living in the present moment with no prejudgements, increases focus, empathy, and compassion.
But to teach a kid how to do it, you have to know and practice it yourself, as it’s beneficial for many reasons, even for a few minutes a day.
Anyway, it’s so easy you’ll notice you have maybe practiced it all along without even knowing.
Getting kids to spend time outdoors might not be so bad.
A Treasure Hunt is one of the most fun activities there are, and sometimes you don’t even have to plan it.
Of course, you can come up with a story, some checkpoints, and a trail, but there are also some places where you can play it just like that.
For example, if you have a trip to the beach, you can buy your kid a basic metal detector, and you can go on a scavenger hunt for coins and other metal objects.
There are a lot of affordable models online to choose from.
You can call it “The Archaeology Game” and come up with an old story or legend.
The kids will love it, and you can sit back and watch for hours without having to worry they will get bored, or you can play with them.
It’s such a volatile game that you don’t have to prepare it in advance if you don’t have time for it.
The truth is, and let’s face it; the fun-o-meter will blow up if you also draw a map, have a complicated storyline, some costumes, and some funny tasks at every checkpoint of your treasure hunt.
Taking your kids to adventure and amusement parks in the woods is an excellent idea if they like rushes of adrenaline, and it’s like playing a video game but in reality.
It’s a great way to get kids to spend time outdoors.
Usually, children are all in for running and climbing, so this should fulfill their need for adventure, and they can breathe some fresh air.
They will consume their energy and do some sport in the meantime, improve their physical strength and maybe space orientation.
They will get a glimpse of how it is to play in the woods, stay in tree houses, and besides, they will cure their fears (especially the fear of heights).
They can scream and laugh without bothering anyone, being far away from the city.
Some adventure parks also provide paintball gear and a place to play or some other courts for practicing different sports like tennis, basketball, football, and so on.
As concrete activities they can have in an adventure park, there are flying fox rides, suspended bridges, tree houses and shelters, rock and tree climbing, walking on a rope and moving or still logs, water or dry slides, and many others.
Amusement Parks offer a time to bond with your child, and riding a rollercoaster made me my son’s hero.
Pet zoos and farms
Interaction with animals and nature is essential for the healthy development of children.
It increases the amount of confidence, empathy, and compassion, and it teaches them responsibility.
Taking care of plants and animals can teach them a thing or two about the eco-friendly life in the countryside.
They can learn how to grow their own organic crops, play with the animals, feed them and care for them, see how they react and what to do in different situations and all of this while playing in the mud and getting dirty (isn’t it the most exciting activity for children?).
Strangely enough, stay-at-home orders seem to have reminded people how important it is to get outdoors. Being outside is generally regarded as safe, so long as basic public health guidelines are still observed. Playing in nature promotes curiosity, initiative, and creativity, and it’s a great way to take a break from the screen. The Children in Nature Network (CINN) provides resources for parents and guardians who want to promote exploration and unstructured play in backyards, parks, and other wild spaces during the pandemic. With many local and state parks starting to open back up, families can take advantage of this opportunity to instill a lifelong interest in nature. – Jayson Seaman, Associate Professor of Outdoor Leadership and Management, University of New Hampshire
What are some ways you get your kids to spend time outdoors?