A lot of research has been done on the advantages of spending time outdoors, especially for kids. Playing or interacting with others in an outdoor setting has been shown to be highly effective in a child’s development, something that we’re passionate about here at Garden Play. There’s a range of benefits on offer, from lowering stress levels, regulating a healthy BMI and even having potential to help with conditions such as ADHD.
Here are some helpful tips on how to encourage your children to play outside, an especially helpful tool in a generation that is often distracted by digital gadgets like smartphones and computers:
Tip 1: Create a Safe Space
Creating a garden play space that is safe is a really key factor, ensuring that your children have the confidence to play outdoors without getting easily hurt. Whether through a physical border, or just an obvious area of focus such as a central piece of play equipment, it’s help to define an area in your back yard or garden that children feel is their own. Kids enjoy having a space where they can play without restrictions and close monitoring, a space where they can be themselves, and it may just keep your flower beds safe in the process!
Tip 2: Don’t Limit Imagination
It’s helpful to be more imaginative in encouraging the ways your children use their favourite toys. For instance, you can create games using their toys, maybe even introducing magical elements such as fairy tales and/or superheroes in the way you tell those stories. You can also make use of natural outdoor materials like logs and twigs to construct playing equipment, while bushes or trees around you garden could serve as exciting story features
Tip 3: Embrace Nature
The best way to teach your children to enjoy the outdoors is to model it by enjoying the outdoors yourself. Take the children hiking or cycling. Don’t just watch them, but walk or ride with them wherever possible. Even if you’re not able to engage in the physical activity, a passion for the outdoors will rub off on children and become something they are likely to emulate it.
Tip 4: Bring in the Sand
You may not have the time to go to the beach, but that shouldn’t stop you from bringing the sand to you! You can bring a sandbox to your garden, or alternatively you can improvise with something like a large tub that can be brought out for sand play times. Place some buckets and spades, or other playing equipment, on the sand and then encourage your children to get creative. It’s exciting to see what they come up with!
Tip 5: Don’t fear mud-pies!
Mud, and the mess that comes with it, is always a concern for outdoor play. Rather than teaching your children to fear or avoid it, it can be useful to set healthy boundaries for as and when to play with mud. Dressing your kids in old clothes is a must for this activity, but other than that you can let them explore nature and be creative. It can also be a great first introduction to gardening, what begins as a mud pie can soon progress to a garden trowel and planting their first flowers or vegetables. You could also invite their friends to come and enjoy the muddy adventure time, as children often enjoy the outdoors more when playing with other children.
Hopefully this guide has given you some fun ideas to get started with. Remember that children learn by emulating older figures around them, so encourage them to enjoy the outdoors by engaging in outdoor activities more. Teach your children to be responsible in an outdoor environment, so that they can take care of themselves and other children when they are outside. Take a look around our range of outdoor play items for even more ideas.