There has been much research into the numerous benefits of outdoor play. Taking part in regular activities outside in the natural environment has been shown to greatly aid children’s development, as well as lowering stress levels, reducing obesity, and even improving the symptoms of ADHD.
With the increasing appeal of smartphones, tablets and televisions among our children, it can sometimes be hard to lure them outside to enjoy the surroundings of the natural world. Here are some helpful tips to help you to encourage your children to enjoy their time spent outdoors.
- Make a danger-free zone playground
Spending money on expensive outdoor playground equipment could spark your children’s interest in playing garden, but it’s not necessary. Instead, you could create a safe garden play-zone, in a place where you can be sure is free from objects that they shouldn’t touch, taste or damage. You could even fence the area off to make sure that the spatial boundaries are clear for your children. Children will love the idea of having their own special area for play.
- Let their imaginations roam free
Create games using your children’s favourite toys and invite elements of magic into the stories that you tell them. You could use logs, bushes and grass as your props to construct houses for fairies. Trim an inviting opening in a nearby hedge or bush, clearing out just enough undergrowth to create tunnels or rooms.
- Show them how to enjoy nature
It’s a widely-known fact that small children like to mimic their parents’ behaviour. This is the time to practice what you have been preaching to your children. If you happen to love outdoor activities such as cycling, gardening and hiking, try to include your children in them whenever you are doing it. Let them see your passion and they’ll hopefully continue to love it just as much as you do.
- A splash of dirt and sand
Sandboxes provide a great form of sensory play for children. Instead of buying one, you can improvise and make your own version of sandbox from scratch. Any container that can hold about a 50L of water can do the trick. On top of that, you can add items such as spoons or trowels laying around the house and garage. You could also include some empty yoghurt cartons for the complete sandbox experience.
- Living in their own universe
Children love to role-play with their friends and spend time in their own imaginative world. Every child picks up a role and together, they form an imaginative play. As adults, we can encourage them in this creative play by providing a playing space and inviting their friends over to play. It’s also great to interact with the other parents while watching them engaging in a play.
- No more fear of mud
Let your children explore the nature with their hands. Dress them in old clothes, so that it doesn’t matter if they get stains on their clothes. Before encouraging a muddy adventure, make sure that your children have their wellies handy!
- Assign them special roles
Teaching the value of responsibility to your children from a young age is highly beneficial. Give your children jobs to make outdoor activities exciting. Raking leaves, watering the garden or even planting seeds are some of the simple tasks that children can take part in. Aside from spending a quality time with you, your children will also get to practice their gardening skills.
- Invite their friends over
Children find it a lot more engaging when playing with friends, in comparison to playing on their own. Ask another parent if you could invite their child for a play together. You should stay close enough to monitor them, but also give them adequate space to express themselves without any self-consciousness.