We bought a house with woods behind it and it has been one of the best aspects about our new home. There is a trail that goes around the outside and my kids love walking and riding it. Along the way they pick flowers or leaves, find walking sticks and rocks they like. The dogs sometimes go with us and they get to watch them sniff for other animals, chase birds and do what dogs do. I will forever be thankful that they already love nature. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when they would rather play inside. But usually a quick, “Hey, I’m going to play in the water hose!” will get them running outside!
Kids are growing up spending more and more time indoors. On average, American kids spend less than 10 minutes in unstructured outdoor play. And by unstructured I mean they are just outside playing. Not baseball practice, not doing chores. Just being outside, doing whatever they want to do. And while the average American kid gets those 10 minutes outside, they are spending more than 6 hours in front of some kind of screen, tv, video game, phone, tablet etc. Outdoor play has many proven health benefits for children, and adults! Here are a few according to Sanford Health:
1: Physically Healthier
Playing ball, tag, jumping, running. All of these require your children to use motor skills, the more they use them, the better they’ll be! Playing on outdoor equipment like swing sets, monkey bars, rock walls, will give your kids’ aerobic exercise. Studies show kids burn more calories outside than they do inside. This prevents obesity and strengthens muscles. And let’s not forget about Mr. Sun providing them with lots of Vitamin D, which builds strong bones!
2: Healthy Social and Emotional Development
Being outside will help your children’s natural explorer come out. The more they explore, the more they learn. They will build skills for being inventive and creative. Playing with other kids outside will help them learn communication, cooperation and organizational skills. Fresh air also helps reduce stress levels!
3: Healthy Sensory Development
Outside your kids will experience all five senses. Sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. Sight, seeing new things. Sounds of animals, and running water. Taste, parent approved natural berries. Touch, their feet in the mud. Smelling the wild flowers. When your kids are indoors glued to a tv, they get sight and sound. That’s it!
4: Longer Attention Spans
Studies show that kids diagnosed with ADHD spent significantly more time indoors than outdoors.
5. Happiness & Immunity
Daylight stimulates the pineal gland, which keeps our immune system strong and makes us feel happier. Being outdoors is known to effect a persons mood, giving them a calm and happy feeling. Plus, the more your kids enjoy nature, the more they will want to preserve it as they get older!
6: Generates Wonder
When you’re kids are experiencing nature, they will often look at things new and it will spark questions. It will bring interest. They want to know who, why, when, where and how. And that is a great thing! They will learn to think for themselves. Trying to figure out how the sky is blue, why bees like flowers, how fast can a rabbit run. As parents we need to embrace these questions instead of getting tired of answering questions all the time! ( Easier said than done some days, I know!)
So maybe you aren’t an “outdoorsy” kind of person. You can still get outdoor time in without tracking through the woods! Grab your favorite books and lay on a hammock and read together. Pick wildflowers. Make crafts out of nature! Here are some great options for that: Nature Tree Hedgehog Pinecone Nature Prints
Here are some great ideas of things to do with your kids outside!
1: Play Tag
2: Play Hide & Seek (in a fenced in area!)
3: Go for a nature walk ( Make a game of it! See who can find the most birds, or the prettiest rocks!)
4: Pick wildflowers
5: Play with chalk on the sidewalk ( Remember hopscotch, well it’s still fun!)
6: Play in the water sprinkler
7: Ride four wheelers or ATVs
8: Create things out of nature ( stick houses, rock forts, fairy gardens)
There are so many options, there’s really no excuse! Get outside today!!
LIVE LIFE BIG