Thanks to technology, most kids tend to spend more time indoors than outdoors. Spending time outside isn’t just enjoyable for kids, it’s necessary. According to research, kids that play outside are happier, pay greater attention, and are less anxious.
The average UK kid sits in front of a screen for 7 hours a day, and plays outside for about 4 to 7 minutes a day. Considering the recommended physical activity is 60 minutes a day regular exercise, which can simply be playing outdoors in the park in the fresh air.
Why Children Should Play Outside
Spending time outside has been shown to be beneficial, even essential, for both kids and adults in recent studies. Some contend that it may be in any outdoor setting. Some insist that it must be a green setting, meaning one with trees and flora. Others have shown the benefits of just an image of greenery on mental health.
Despite these minor variations, the majority of research concur that children who play outside are happier, smarter, more attentive, and less anxious than children who spend more time inside. While the particular mechanisms underlying the boost in mood and cognitive performance are unknown, there are a number of things we know about why nature is excellent for the minds of children.
Gets Kids Active
The majority of ways to interact with nature require more movement than simply sitting on a couch so we should encourage kids to play outdoors. Your child doesn’t have to join the neighbourhood football team or go biking through the park; even a short walk will get their heart rate up. Kids who exercise appear to be more likely to focus, which is especially helpful for those who have ADHD. Exercise is also good for children’s bodies and overall health, and expending pent up energy which can manifest into naughty behaviour.
Provides Kids With Different Stimulation
Although your son’s violent video game may seem more entertaining, nature actually activates more senses since you can see, hear, smell, and touch your outdoor surroundings. When young people spend less and less time in natural environments, their senses become more limited, which lessens the depth of human experience.
Makes Kids Think
In reality, children can only experience a special feeling of amazement in nature. Children often have questions about the planet and the life that it sustains because of the natural phenomena that takes place in parks and backyards every day.
It Reduces Fatigue and Stress
The Attention Restoration Theory contends that urban settings require directed attention, which drives us to block out distractions and tires our brains. In natural settings, we use a relaxed form of attention called soft fascination that makes us feel happy, rather than fatigued and stressed.
It Increases Imagination and Creativity
Children can meaningfully interact with their surroundings through this unrestricted style of play. They have greater mental freedom, the ability to create their own activities, and a creative outlook on life.
It Builds Confidence
Children’s outdoor play is significantly less structured than the majority of indoor play activities. Allowing your child to choose how he or she interacts with nature gives them the ability to manage their own actions. There are countless opportunities to interact with outdoor environments, from the backyard to the park to the nearby hiking trail or lake.
It Teaches Responsibility
If a child is trusted to take care of a living thing in their environment, they will discover what happens when they neglect to water a plant or yank a flower out by the roots. Living things perish if they are mistreated or not taken care of properly.
How to Find Places for Kids to Play Outside
Prioritizing outside activities in your child’s schedule begins with understanding why outdoor play is essential for their development. An additional positive step is knowing where to go to make the most of any sunshine.
Visit your local parks or look at Facebook groups of nearby towns and cities for suggestions on where to go and things to do with your family. Look for places like public parks, hiking trails, zoos, orchards, gardens, and wildlife sanctuaries.
Alternatively, the following activities can be done at home or close to home:
- Plan a Treasure Hunt: You can make your kids search for certain items, or be a bit more general. Such as, items that start with the letter S or something for each colour in the rainbow.
- Start Growing a Garden: Let your kids start their own garden, all that’s needed is vegetable or flower seeds and a space to grow.
- Leaf Rubbings: Fresh leaves, crayons and papers are all that’s needed for this activity.
- Create a Challenge Course : A timed obstacle course that requires each child to jump, crawl, climb, step over, and roll.
- Get Moving: Kids can get moving with activities such as Twister, Simon Says, Freeze Dance, Hopscotch, and Mother May I.
- Explore the Soil: Get your children to explore the soil by looking for bugs, worms, and turning over rocks to see what’s underneath. Let them make mud pies.
- Play games: You don’t need expensive outdoor play equipment, a simple ball is enough for catch which improves motor skills. Other games can help social skills and teach how to problem solve.
Exploring Nature and Playing Outside Is For All Ages
The earlier you share nature with your kid, the more likely they’ll develop a life-long love for the outdoors. You can even let your infant or toddler learn and play in nature. Younger children are constantly developing and learning from every experience. You can help your kids build social connections by organizing outdoor playdates.
You can even challenge older kids and teens with outdoor family activities. Take advantage of the opportunity to bond over games you’ll all enjoy, and go ahead and challenge each other with something fun and new. Benefits of outdoor play include helping to prevent obesity in kids of all ages, and physical play strengthens bones and muscles.
Our world is changing rapidly, and it’s not always for the better. A child may never truly understand what it feels like to be outside if they don’t experience activities like walking in the woods, playing in the streams, digging in the dirt, seeing animals in their natural habitats, climbing mountains, or gazing out at the ocean’s vast horizon. Our children must learn to value the planet since their future depends on it.
Try it then. Send your kids outside like our parents did. Better yet, join them. And make an effort to ensure that each child is able to do the same.