In this age of technology between televisions and devices, many parents find their children spending less and less time outside, or moving around in general. For those of us who revelled in nature in their childhood, it can leave us scratching our heads.
Outdoor playtime is important for a multitude of reasons. It gets kids out into the fresh air, encourages more movement and introduces them to the wonders of the outside world.
So, how do you get them interested in giving up screen time in favour of actively playing outside?
Here are five suggestions to get you started.
1. Regularly go for walks or bike rides as part of family time.
Kids take cues from us, so if family time is always inside or engaging with less active activities, they’ll be less inclined to take themselves outside to play on their own. Inspire a love of nature in your children by incorporating time out in it as part of regular family activities. Whether it’s walking down to the park and letting them play on the playground, taking them to the beach to play in the sand or exploring family-friendly trails and bike paths that are in and around parks, lakefronts or riverways. You might even like to have a picnic at a park or playground or perhaps you might like to explore nature further from your home by visiting national parks. Play games with them in nature and you’ll find them much more motivated to get outside. Running and around and playing games isn’t just good for your kids’ health, it’s good for yours too!
2. Create an outdoor scavenger hunt
Who doesn’t love a good scavenger hunt? Get your kids excited in the outdoors by getting them to collect items from nature. This will also give you the opportunity to teach them about the world around them at the same time.
3. Organise an outdoors play date
Get a few parents and kids together for a playdate in the park—or you may like to take your kids and a few of their friends to a park yourself. They’ll very quickly begin to interact with each other and the environment around them, making up games to play with each other.
4. Move the indoors outdoors
Many toys that your children enjoy playing with indoors can be taken outdoors instead. Playdough, drawing and other creative materials, dress ups, blocks and figurines—all of these can be enjoyed outside. Not only does it open up an entirely new world of possibilities for your children, it might also create some space inside your home too! Verandahs, patios and cubbies can act as sheltered playtime spaces when weather is hot or rainy.
5. Let them know it’s okay to get messy and dirty
Outdoor play in nature does mean that kids might get a little scruffy—but that’s part of the fun of it! If you do have a lower tolerance for messy playtime, perhaps consider having a tub of water with soap, towels and a facecloth by the backdoor and encourage kids to wash themselves off a little to avoid the spread of water, sand or mud through the house. But if they know you’re okay with them getting a little dirty, they’ll be more inclined to play outside more regularly.