5 Ways to Get Your Kids Outdoors
With technology now influencing nearly every aspect of our lives, we must ask ourselves how it may be affecting our kids’ childhood experiences. Many kids are now spending the majority of their time in front of some type of screen and we’re seeing them become more and more detached from the natural world.
Getting outdoors and truly logging off from social media and online gaming is crucial in order for a child to develop good physical health, social skills, self-confidence, important life skills, and an understanding of our natural world. We need to be encouraging our children to spend time outdoors every day and need to set an example for them to follow. We need to show kids from an early age that there is fun to be had offline, and introducing them to the great outdoors can start from pretty much the day they are born.
Whether you’re looking to start your children off on the right foot straight from infancy or are trying to encourage your older kids to ditch the Netflix and texting on the couch, we’ve gathered some of our best tips for making the outdoors enticing for your kids. Many outdoor activities are free or inexpensive and the goal is to implement playing outdoors into your child’s daily routine.
Entice Your Kids Outdoors with Toys and Games
If you make it a point to consistently invest in outdoor toys and games, your kids will use them. The more options you give them, the more likely something will draw them in. Some great ideas to start with include setting up a badminton set or ring toss in the yard, getting some colorful chalk for drawing on the driveway, constructing a sandpit with pails and shovels, or acquiring a playful armory of squirt guns and water balloons to be enjoyed on hot summer days.
The key is to purchase outdoor toys that cater to your own individual child’s interests. If they’re artsy, get toys that will further encourage their talent. If they’re sporty, opt for things like basketball hoops and golf clubs. Whether you’re planning to buy a scooter or a backyard frisbee, be sure to check reviews and purchase from a reliable URL online so you don’t end up getting a low-quality product which poses a safety risk to your child. Also try to seek out educational tools disguised as toys to help develop your child’s mind as well as their fitness. Think child binoculars, telescopes, outdoor puzzles, insect catching kits, building model planes, etc.
Turn Your Yard into a Playground
Purchasing toys is one thing, but even more important is creating a safe outdoor space that will lure your kids in. Obviously living in a single-family home with a decent backyard space will make is easier to create a backyard oasis filled with outdoor fun. If you happen to live on such a property, use your backyard to your advantage to create an adventurous outdoor space filled with play equipment and activities.
Use your outdoor space to set up a swing from the backyard tree, construct a tree house, or create a backyard obstacle course. If your backyard is a fun and enticing space, your kids will want to spend their time there, especially since it’s right outside your doors and therefore extremely accessible to them. Kids obviously can’t drive, so their world literally is confined to their home unless you have the free time to drive them somewhere like a local park. If the inside of your home offers more fun for your kids than your yard does, you will find it difficult to draw them outdoors.
Visit Local Parks and Gardens
If you aren’t fortunate to live in a home with a decent backyard or live in something like an apartment complex, you may have to resort to going to a local park or garden to get your kids playing outdoors. While it may require a long walk or drive to get to a park, the one benefit of a public playground is that you won’t have to purchase and construct any equipment yourself. Many public parks offer up quite elaborate playground equipment that most families would struggle to even come close to affording. You also will find it difficult to find the space or get council approval to build a 30-foot slide or flying fox in your own yard.
Many parks have basketball courts, bike pump tracks, and skateboard facilities. Many parks are also situated on lakes or alongside beaches, allowing you to take your kids fishing, kayaking, or swimming. Parks with wide open spaces are also perfect for flying kites and playing games that require a great deal of space like football.
Gardens are beautiful areas to take your kids and they allow you to introduce smaller toddlers to the natural world. They can have fun spotting birds, chasing lizards or butterflies, and collecting bugs. Introduce them to the world of plants and flowers and maybe try to create a garden of your own back home or at least have them care for a potted plant to teach them some responsibility. Some studies have shown that kids who help you grow fruits and vegetables at home are more likely to actually want to eat them.
Get Your Kids Involved in Outdoor Sports
A really good way to keep your kids outdoors on a regular basis is to get them involved in some kind of outdoor sport whether it’s organized through their school or the local community. Team sports will help your child develop social skills and teach them the importance of teamwork and cooperation. Communication skills will be strengthened which will allow them to better navigate future relationships whether they be personal or business relationships.
Don’t try to force a specific sport on your child if they clearly aren’t enjoying it. The key is to have them find sports that cater to their skills and ones that they are passionate about. There are so many sports out there that they are bound to find one they enjoy. The obvious first ones to try are the commonly offered sports such as baseball, basketball, soccer, football, and hockey. However, don’t overlook activities like swimming, archery, karate, lacrosse, volleyball, etc.
Visit Nature Reserves and National Parks
To truly get your kids to appreciate the natural world, it’s important to fully remove them from daily distractions by taking time to explore nature reserves and natural parks in your area. Introducing your kids to wildlife and teaching them the importance of conservation will go a long way to helping them become good citizens of the community and world later on. Gaining an appreciation for nature at an early stage will make them much more likely to recycle, conserve natural resources, and not litter.
It’s also good to get your kids out of the house and force them to rough-it a bit by camping. Show your kids that not all food originates from the grocery store and teach them how to accomplish tasks like starting a fire from scratch which is a good life skill to have. Help them forage for fresh berries, let them catch and eat their own fish, and teach them how to build a shelter and boil water. These are essential life skills that have sadly begun to disappear. We need to teach our kids how fortunate they are to have a comfortable home, safe drinking water readily available from a tap, and instant light from the simple flick of a switch.
Wilderness camp sites are also usually void of Wi-Fi and other distractions, allowing you to have important conversations with your kids about how their lives are going and their plans for their future. Being outdoors and stargazing at night lets kids realize how truly big the world and universe really is. Seeing natural landscapes on Instagram will never compare to seeing natural wonders in person and getting that 4D experience