Many British children spend less time outdoors than a prison inmate. A study has revealed that British children between the age of 5 and 12 spend less than an hour playing outdoors daily. Even more shocking is that 1 in 5 British children never spend time outdoors.
Many parents are of the opinion that modern children no longer have the same opportunities to play outdoors compared to when they were growing up. Whether this is true or not, the fact that children need to play outdoors is essential to their healthy development for many reasons:
- A study has shown that children who play outdoors have better vision than those who don’t.
- Physical exercise reduces the risk of obesity and improves muscle growth.
- Interacting with other children on the playground improves their social skills.
- Playing outdoors increases a child’s attention span, this significantly reduces their risk of acquiring attention deficit disorder.
- Playing outside is the best way for the body to produce vitamin D.
Despite the challenges facing modern parents, it’s important to take the time and effort to encourage children to spend more time playing outdoors. We’re going to look at what advice the experts have to give. This article intends to provide some useful tips in order to help parents get their children to lead a healthier life by playing outdoors.
Michelle Horne of Peekaboo communications is a parenting PR specialist. These are her tips for getting your child to spend more time outdoors:
- Cycling – create reasons to take a bicycle ride with the children. A trip to the park, ice cream parlour or to buy something they’ll enjoy like a football.
- Geocoaching is an app you can install on a mobile device. This can be used to stimulate a child’s sense of adventure. Take the child outside and use the app to see what you can find.
- A dog can be a big commitment but this will give children a reason to spend time outdoors taking the dog for walks or playing with him in the garden.
- A trampoline and other play equipment is a wonderful way to get children to spend time in the garden.
- Go somewhere fun like an adventure playground, the park or the beach.
- Encourage children to participate in sport.
Carrie Longton is the founder of the parenting website Mumsnet. She believes that parents need not get too involved in children’s play. These are her tips:
- Playing on their own stimulates a child’s imagination. To stimulate them to do this create simple story-based challenges for them.
- Younger children like to be involved with what their parents are doing and want to feel useful. Asking them to do simple tasks around the garden like clearing up leaves will get them outside while allowing them the enjoyment of being productive.
- Set up treasure hunts in the garden. Every child loves that.
- Repeat visits to public playgrounds can be boring for parents, meaning that they’ll be less likely to visit with their children. To make the playground fun for parents too, you could invest in a flask to take a drink with you, get an audio book or listen to the radio. Invite a friend to come with so that you can chat while the children play.
These are some very simple guidelines that any parent can follow. Once a parent forms the habit of spending quality outdoor time with their children, they’ll realise what fun it can be. Doing this will benefit the whole family.