When I think back to my childhood, I was always outdoors. Whether I was in the back garden attempting to perfect a handstand against the fence (I never did manage it, and had to be satisfied with a headstand). Down at the play park which was at the bottom of the road or slightly further afield playing in the weir during the hot summer days.
It was a time when you ate breakfast, dashed out the door, returned for lunch and back out again until you were hungry for tea. Times have unfortunately changed and we sadly don’t live in a world where it is safe for our children to do this. This, however, does not mean that they shouldn’t be getting outdoors as often as possible.
Little Tikes recently conducted a survey of 2000 parents with children aged two to sixteen. When parents ask their kids why they don’t want to go outside and play, 42 percent have heard the excuse that it’s too cold to go out, and one in four say their little ones have been too tired to leave the house. Thirty percent of kids have been too lost in a video game to get some fresh air and 24 percent have asked if they can stay in so they can watch their favourite TV show.
Just reading that makes me sad. Whilst I will confess that the bad weather can put me off taking the children out on planned days out. It is usually just the rain that makes me feel this way. If it is cold or snowing it just causes another layer of clothing. As parents though, we do need to be doing our part to encourage getting kids outdoors.
Psychologist and spokesperson for Little Tikes Emma Kenny said: “Outdoor play is a great way to bond with your child while allowing them to experience the fresh air and freedom outdoor activities can provide.”
EMMA KENNY’S TOP TIPS FOR GETTING KIDS OUTDOORS
- Have fun with them! Kids absolutely love to spend time with their parents. Whether you create an obstacle course in the garden up and over the slide and around the sandpit, or a simple game of hide and seek, playing together is fantastic for bonding and ensures lots of healthy activity.
- Get kids growing! Connecting children with nature is a sure fire way to spark their interest in and connection with the outdoors. Planting sunflower seeds and having a ‘whose grows tallest’ competition is a simple way to get things growing!
- Get creative with the outdoors, messy play becomes a lot more fun when it doesn’t matter how messy you get. The sandpit and water table are great places to start making memories, and why not take the paints, paper, and brushes outdoors and help your kids with their messy masterpieces.
- Go on a nature treasure trail. Grab some bags and go out on a nature walk, take their scooter or trike making sure you gather interesting pebbles and leaves along the way. When you get home you can make creative collages that you can keep as souvenirs.
- Get them den building! You’re never too old or too young for den building. Aside from building imagination, dexterity and divergent play skills, there is nothing more exciting than having a secret den to play in
- Go moon watching as a family. From counting stars to learning all the shapes of the moon. Getting outside at night can help relax children before bed and help with a restful sleep
- Play bug detectives! Get muddy looking under rocks and digging in the soil to see how many bugs and worms you can spot. This activity brings nature to life and helps kids feel a sense of excitement in the outside world
How do you encourage your kids to get outdoors?