There is a good reason why it is called the ‘great’ outdoors, and it is not just because of the vastness of everything outside. It is because the countryside, the fresh air, the freeness to move, run and play, and the human connection that we instinctively feel with nature is better for us than being indoors. The outdoors is truly great! We all know this to be true, but far too many people have allowed themselves to become over-familiar and comfortable with an indoor life. And the bad habits of technology and four walls is amazingly hard to break.
Most parents, even young ones, will remember an age when most of their free time was spent out of the house. They were off seeing friends (rather than messaging them), playing games (instead of streaming them) and visiting places of interest (rather than liking them on Pinterest). Yet, for today’s children everything is different, and your average 5-year-old is faced with the daily distractions and temptations of a computer with more processing power than the one that first put a man on the moon fifty years ago.
If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it…
I understand that technology has changed our lives enormously – and mostly for the better. But, there are aspects of our children’s lives that are decidedly less beneficial than they were way back when. And one of those is the desire to go and play outside and grow up with an appreciation of the ‘greatness’ of being outdoors.
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Curriculum places a huge emphasis on young children being outside: saying it is extremely valuable to their health and education.
It is the natural order of things for children to play and for them to play outside. They are able to use energy, benefit from natural light, breath fresh air and escape the glare of artificial screens. So why change that aspect of growing up naturally? If you are struggling on just how to achieve this – here are a few examples of things to do:
Walking: From a child’s first steps through to the ones that they take today, walking gives them the opportunity to explore and learn. You can encourage children to walk more in their daily routines, rather than taking the lazy option of waiting for a lift or getting the bus. It is important, of course, to ensure that suitable supervision is on hand, but perhaps that means you can get a bit more exercise too.
Whereas a walk on its own, as recreation, might not always appeal to a child – a walk to a destination can be very exciting. Perhaps there are activities locally, the dog needs walking, or you could get into the habit of parking a little further away when taking the children out on trips.
Days out: Going out for the day, on school trips or family activities is always exciting for children. Instead of always taking them to indoor venues, why not think about places where they can spend more hours in the daylight: theme parks, zoos, country parks, adventure playgrounds, forest walks, outdoor swimming pools, activity centres, helping in the garden, going to the beach, camping trips and nature trails.
There is just so much to do outdoors.