Kids love to play. But the question of the hour is where are you letting them play? Kickball. Soccer. Mudpies. Climbing Trees. This is what we grew up with, but children these days seem to have lost their connection with the outdoors and love spending time indoors. Bring your child to outdoors and let them experience what it is like during your childhood days.
Recent studies have indicated that indoor play can be detrimental to children’s growth. In a 2010 study, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the average children (ages 8-18) spends practically every waking minute—except for time in school—using a Smartphone, computer, television or other electronic device. Are you now wondering how to get your kids outside and have them experience the wonders of nature? If so, you’re definitely not alone! More and more parents these days are finding ways to get their kids outside under the skies and in the open. We need to incorporate in their minds that the quality of life isn’t measured by how many Facebook friends we have and tell ourselves too that it isn’t about how well our kids play Wii games or how many songs they have on their iPod.
Children who spend more time outside than indoors are healthier. It’s an added advantage where if you let them play outside, they also learn to care about the environment and do their bit to preserve nature. Only when they experience it, will they fall in love with it.
Some may argue as to why parents let their kids stay indoors if playing outside is so much better. That’s mostly because parents are worried about their kids picking up germs outside. Research, however, shows that the air that is indoors is more likely to cause asthma than being outside. Being and playing outdoors lowers stress, reduces obesity, and can even improve ADHD symptoms.
An excellent way to nurture love for nature is to introduce them to gardening at a very young age. Kid-sized gloves and shovels make this fun for them. They learn along the process. You can go to your local nursery for recommendations on the best plants to grow indoors. Be sure to bring your kids with you to get them involved, and invested, in the process.
Another interesting study conducted in Denmark compares two group of children, one that grew up in a traditional kindergarten; the other from a “nature kindergarten,” where kids stayed outdoors all day long throughout the school year. It was found that the kids from the nature kindergarten were more alert, better at using their motor skills and significantly more creative. To add, the creative children emerged as leaders from the natural play areas.
The message is quite clear- we need to teach the children to experience nature on their own.
How to bring your child to outdoors
- Tell them about your own nature stories from your childhood
- Take them reading outside in the open
- Make special day rules, like the “sunny day” rule, where they can’t be cooped up at home if it’s a beautiful sunny day outside. If it’s a “rainy day”, show them how to make paper boats and have fun with them by puddle stomping
- Take nature walks and teach them about different birds, trees, plants insects
- Make it adventurous - go on a hike or camping or climbing with them
- Have a backyard movie night
- Trip to the beach
- Treasure hunt
- Fun with campfire, food and games
- Reading books in the treehouse
These are just a few ideas, but you can come up with your own ideas and make it a special and memorable childhood for your children. When other kids come over to play, their play becomes focused seriousness. This is their first step of learning social values and rules. Everything learnt with play is for a lifetime to keep.