Has your little one been playing too many hours of Fortnite these days? Perhaps they don’t get enough physical activity and outdoor play?
In this article, we take a closer look at the importance of physical activity and outdoor exploration.
Importance of Outdoor Play
Outdoor play has a myriad of health benefits to offer children — both physically and mentally. Not only is it a great way to encourage exercise but it’s also a way for them to develop their imagination and creativity.
Children who play outdoors perform a variety of activities that would otherwise not be available to them indoors, e.g., climbing trees, playing catch, riding bicycles. This is why outdoor play is also a great way to fine-tune their motor skills, coordination, and balance.
Playing outdoors also teaches your children to be more appreciative of nature and other living things. Recent studies show that children who play outside are more likely to protect nature as adults. If you want to raise children who are environmentally aware, outdoor play is a great way to start.
10 Tips to Encourage Outdoor Play for Children
There are several ways parents can encourage their children to spend more time outdoors. Here are 10 ideas parents can use with their kids:
Take small steps
You can’t expect your kids to love outdoor activities off the bat. Especially if they’ve always played indoors, it will take several tries before something finally sticks. In that case, starting small can increase the chances of your child liking outdoor play.
If you’re currently raising a toddler, the process might be easier. You simply need to take their indoor toys outdoors where you both can enjoy a little time under the sun. In case you’re worried about getting your little one’s indoor toys dirty, you can always get an easy to clean play kit to use for the job.
Follow their interests
Children have unique interests and curiosities. When encouraging them to try something new, parents need to follow their children’s lead during the process.
In other words, if your child likes to play pretend, this could be the key to getting them to play outside. Consider dressing yourselves up as nature explorers and going on an adventure in your backyard or local park.
On the other hand, if your little one likes spaceships and astronauts, perhaps you can do fun outer space-themed crafts outside together.
Let them take the lead
Parents should be around to guide their children and keep them safe while playing outside. However, as much as possible, let them decide what they want to do during these moments.
For example, if you’re in the park or playground, don’t force your child to ride the swings when they just want to run around and explore their surroundings.
This is a great way to help your child develop a sense of independence. It’s also great for their confidence and self-esteem.
Get them an “Around the World” box
If you’re looking for simple and fun ways to encourage exploration in your child, an “Around the World” box is a great idea.
An Around the World box contains items and games that come from different places around the world. It’s a great way to introduce your little one to new cultures and ideas.
You can create your own around the world box with little trinkets that you can find around your home. You can also buy one right here, at GreenKidsCrafts.
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Plant a garden with them
Gardening can be a great way to teach your children about responsibility and accountability. Like owning a pet, children will have to take care of their plant, make sure it gets enough water and vitamins, so it doesn’t wither and die.
Decide whether you want to plant vegetables or flowers with your children. Once you have that in mind, you can proceed to get small pots where you and your little one can start planting. Have them help you regularly water and take care of these plants.
Visit a national or state park
Traveling can be a great way to encourage your children to spend more time in the outdoors. The great thing about living in the US is that there is a wealth of national and state parks for every family to explore. Most national and state parks also offer activities such as hiking, bird watching, and entomology that your child might find interesting. Consider joining some of these during your time outside.
Take them on walks
These don’t have to be very long walks. Even a walk around your block or park is a great way to expose your child to the outdoors. You can do this after breakfast, on the way to school. You can even do this at night, right after dinner.
Incorporating games during your walks are also a great idea. For example, you could play a round of I-Spy to encourage your child to identify different elements in nature.
Sign them up for a playgroup
Most playgroups have a designated facility where they conduct activities for children. Some meet up in public parks and other outdoor venues. Check your neighborhood for outdoor playgroups and sign up your child for a couple of sessions.
Limit daily screen-time
The less time your child spends on the computer or TV, the more time he’ll have to explore his surroundings. Limiting daily screen time is a great way to encourage children to spend more time outdoors. Without videogames or TV shows distracting your children’s attention all the time, they’ll be forced to come up with ways to entertain themselves.
When outside, give your children toys, tools, and other equipment that encourage creativity. This can be anything from a bucket of blocks to a container of colored chalk.
Make it a part of their routine
The last tip you can use to encourage outdoor play for your children is to make it a part of their daily routine. As we mentioned earlier, you can’t expect your child to instantly outdoor play. You have to make the transition process easier for them to accept. This means introducing it to them little by little, every day.
An hour of outdoor play per day is already a great place to start. You can use any of the ideas mentioned above as a basis for the activities you do with your child.
Outdoor play is one of the many ways children learn. Not only does play provide your kids with an outlet to expend energy, but it also introduces them to complex societal concepts at an early age. If you’re looking for ways to encourage your little one to spend more time outside, the tips we shared today are all great places to start. Make sure to give them a try when you get the chance.
This article is a contributor post! Katie Pierce is a teacher/writer, and she’s been doing some freelance writing while teaching awesome (but often hyper) preschool kids.