A Guide to Finally Getting Your Kids to Put Down Their Gadgets and Spend Time Outdoors
By: Leslie Campos
Once upon a time, children climbed trees and played in the mud and got into all sorts of outdoor shenanigans. Today, they mostly just stay inside fiddling with game controllers and smartphones. It’s a considerable disparity, one that’s proving to be detrimental to kids’ growth and development, both in mind and body. Luckily, this can be easily remedied with outdoor play and learning opportunities that are fun and engaging. Here are some nifty resources for parents who want to make kids play like kids again.
Learn and Have Fun
Spending time outdoors doesn’t have to involve just exercise and sports — you can actually spend some time in the sun and learn something at the same time. Not sure where you should get started? The following resources can help you get started.
Start with some backyard teachable activities, like watering an “alphabet garden” and an “ABC garden hunt.” They’ll have so much fun they will never suspect they’re also learning. Next, turn them into sidewalk artists with colored chalk. Try wetting the patio first to make the colors vibrant and easier to draw on. And don’t forget to create a hopscotch court. Sometimes the oldest games are the best games, and in case you forgot how to make one, here’s a nice little reminder.
Gardening can be a great way to get kids interested in being outside. What little kid doesn’t want to play and dig in the dirt? Be sure and make the garden “child-sized” or they can easily become overwhelmed and look at it as a chore rather than having fun. If you want to plant seeds together, make sure they’re big enough for little fingers to hold on to, like peas, beans, and sunflowers. Get them their own set of gardening tools and dress them in whatever you won’t mind them getting dirty.
Gardens aren’t the only thing you can create to enjoy in your backyard. Make your own bird or bat house, or put together a sundial, or a weather station. You’ll not only have the crafts to enjoy in the future, but also the memories you make together.
If your yard needs some prep before you get started, search for grading companies near me to make sure you’re getting reputable professionals to do the job. By sifting through online reviews and customer ratings, you can determine who might be your best bet. Just make sure you call at least a few companies to get estimates, and get any quotes for their work in writing.
Naturally, one of the big benefits of spending time outdoors is that it gets you up and moving. Exercise isn’t just for the body, although the health benefits derived from daily exercise are enormous. Among other things, it increases cardiovascular and bone health, improves balance, and boosts immune systems. But exercise is also great for our minds and mood. It improves cognitive development and even lets kids sleep better.
That said, finding something that everyone will enjoy is often more difficult than it sounds. Give these ideas a try to find something the whole family will love:
- Take a hike and make the destination something special, like a stream to wet their toes in or an old rock fortress to climb on.
- Bring along picnic food and make a day of it.
Before you even leave the house, dress for activity. Go online with the kids and let them pick out fun gear and accessories like custom laces for their sneakers and hiking boots. They’ll be itching to go outside just to show off how great they look.
Ultimately, nature’s healing powers will reverse any effects that a deficiency in outdoor time may cause. Know that it’s never too late to get your children outside, and with the right activities, you’ll be able to do exactly that.