Getting children outdoors and into nature is one of the best things a parent can do for their child's emotional and mental wellbeing as well as their physical development.
Outdoor activities help children learn new skills, get exercise, and have fun.
There are many different ways to introduce children to outdoor activities, depending on your location and interests.
In this blog post, we will discuss some great tips for getting started!
The Importance of outdoor activities in child development
Every Parent knows that kids seem to have endless energy that needs to burn off. What better way to do that than by getting them outside and active?
According to CDC, physical activities need to be part of a child’s life. It’s recommended for kids between 3 to 5 to be physically active throughout the day, and for age 6 to 17 years to have at least one hour a day for physical activities.
Not only does outdoor activity help children expel energy, it’s also crucial in their development.
Importantly, outdoor play improves physical fitness. Kids who participate in outdoor activities are generally more physically active. It’s good to create the habit of exercising from a young age.
As childhood obesity is an increasing problem in many countries, we think it's important to give children everything they need to be healthy young people.
Outdoor games are also a great way help kids building their execution skills like planning, prioritising, troubleshooting and multitasking, which are all crucial for their future success.
Most importantly, playing outdoors is fun! Children will enjoy getting outside and playing games, exploring nature, and participating in sports. There are so many different options to choose from, so everyone can find something they enjoy.
When, where and how to start
The best time to start getting children outdoors is during their early childhood years, when they are developing and growing rapidly.
Not only do outdoor activities let them learn new skills, the exposure to sunlight (with caution and sun protection!) and nature helps to make happy and healthy kids.
Whether you live in a suburban area with plenty of open space to explore or in a city where every square of space is being used for multiple purposes, there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities.
Backyard or nearby park
One of the best ways to get started is by doing activities in your backyard or at a nearby park.
Pack some snacks and drinks, put on sunscreen (and a hat!) and let the kids explore.
What we might think is too familiar can be very special for young kids.
Even a simple walk could spark the imagination and creativity in those rapidly developing brains.
Local parks are a great opportunity to meet other kids and get your little ones socialising.
Playing together teaches collaboration and negotiation. If space allows, set up a bounce house in the backyard and become an instant hot spot in the neighborhood. Hours of fun guaranteed.
Camping in the garden or outside
If you have a backyard, camping is a great way to enjoy the outdoors without leaving home.
You can set up tents and camp. This is also a great opportunity to teach about nature and how things work outside of their normal environment.
You don’t need a professional camping set up for young kids. A nice toy tent will be enough for a day-time adventure, letting them develop their multitasking skills and creativity.
It’s also easy to do if there are other children in your neighbourhood. Invite them over for some fun play together.
With the planning, negotiating and collaborating involved, this is a great way to help kids develop teamwork skills.
Playing outdoor games in the backyard or park
There are many sports that can be played in the backyard or outside. This is a great way to get children active and moving.
For example, baseball is a great sport to play outdoors and it can be enjoyed by children of all ages. It doesn’t need to take up too much space.
A basketball hoop and stand is super easy to set up and will provide hours of entertainment.
Even without equipment, a simple game of hide and seek, treasure hunt or capture the flag can ensure kids enjoy their outdoor experiences while forgetting about the electronic gadgets left behind at home.
Another great benefit of playing outdoor games in the backyard is that children can play with friends.
They can be noisy and let off much more steam than if they were playing indoor games.
This is a great way to get them socializing and working together as a team as well as developing gross motor skills.
You can make it a family activity with mommy, daddy and siblings all involved.
Spend some quality bonding time together while helping kids with their development.
Children are naturally curious and love to explore their surroundings. Outdoor activities provide opportunities for children to learn about nature, plants, animals and the environment.
It is also a great way to get some exercise and fresh air. Some ideas include going on walks in the park or forest, visiting a farm or petting zoo, or planting a garden together.
Appreciating nature can lead to a positive attitude later in life. Escaping to get back to nature has long been a trope for people unwinding from stress.
However it is such for good reason. It's a real pleasure to get a lung full of fresh air, to test your physical stamina out on a trail and enjoy the world.
A great activity to inspire the budding naturalist is is put together a herbarium together. Collect leaves, flowers and other plant specimens and press them in a book.
Label each specimen with the date, place collected and (if possible) plant name.
This is also great for looking through and reminiscing on a rainy day at home later on.
When getting children outdoors there are some important things to consider: sun protection, hydration and safety.
Sunscreen is essential for any outdoor adventure, even on a cloudy day as the damaging UV rays can cut through clouds.
Pair good sunscreen with a nice wide-brim hat and adequate clothing to ensure your child's skin is safe.
Hydration is also essential for young ones playing outside. Kids love to run around and aren't always very good at remembering to replenish all of the fluids they're losing throughout their day.
Taking a simple water bottle filled with clean tap water is enough to ensure your child doesn't get dehydrated while playing.
When exploring nature, it is important to teach kids about basic safety. Teach them to be aware of their surroundings, what's OK to touch and what they should leave alone.
Also, it's a good idea to teach them what to do if they get lost, have a plan and a meeting place.
Being careful not to put off your child by scaring them about the potential hazards of outdoor adventure (you know just how much your child needs to be warned), you should be certain to talk to them seriously about how to safely have fun in the outdoors.
Finally, it is also a good idea to have a simple first-aid kit with you in case of small emergencies.
The Great Outdoors
The outdoors is one of the best places to spend time with children. It provides a fantastic opportunity for them to learn and grow, while exploring nature and having fun in their own backyard or community park.
With a little bit of preparation, it is easy to get children outdoors and enjoying all that nature has to offer.
So go outside, turn off the screens and explore! You may be surprised at how much fun you have.