11 Ways To Get Kids Outside.

We have spoken about the importance of play earlier. Apart from play being what comes naturally to children, it has immense benefits on their physical and emotional development, improves social skills and builds their imagination. 

With our busy urban lives, limited outdoor spaces and screens that can easily keep our children glued, it might be a bigger challenge for parents these days to get their children to be outside the house and also enjoy outdoor play. Being indoors for long periods of time, and increased screen time don’t allow our children to get enough movement or build their immunity. Understanding the importance of play might be easier than actually getting your child to enjoy being outside. We have a few tips to get you started and some fun activities to follow. 

1. Dress appropriately for the weather

Comfort is a big factor in children enjoying an activity. While taking them outdoors ensure they are dressed to suit the weather. Like they say there is no bad weather, just poor dressing. For summer, cotton clothing and a hat work well and if it's cold, dress them in enough layers to keep them warm.  

2. Earlier the better

Get children used to being outside from a young age. Babies too can enjoy a walk in their stroller or in a baby carrier. As they are still developing their immune system, it is best to avoid crowded places. And as soon as your little ones start walking, ditch the stroller and allow them to explore on their feet, keeping a close eye on their safety.

3. Embrace the mess

Let your child know that it’s okay to get dirty, messy or wet. Playing in the sandpit or a puddle of water can get messy and when your child knows that you won’t mind it, they are more likely to explore. There is a special kind of joy in splashing in muddy rainwater puddles and making sandcastles. 

4. Limit screen time

Screen time is not all bad, but without appropriate limits, it can rob your child of the opportunity to spend sufficient time outside. The comfort of a  couch and the entertainment of a screen might be hard to beat, but with a little help, your child can enjoy non-screen time.  Setting age-appropriate limits on their screen time and scheduling acceptable times for screen can encourage your child to use their time outdoors for entertainment and play.

5. Two is company

Organise a play date for your child outdoors. It could be a trip to the park, an evening at the sandpit or even better a visit to a farm. Your child is likely to build on excitement when they have company and this also provides an opportunity to interact and improve social skills. 

6. Nature holidays

Especially in urban areas, it is hard to find large outdoor spaces for your child to explore. Then next time you are planning a family vacation, pick something that includes a fair amount of nature and outdoor time. A stay at a plantation, a farm stay, camping, small hikes and nature trails or even some time at the beach. Let your child marvel at the best nature has to offer. 

7. Double dip on outdoor activities

I first heard this term in one of my favourite parenting books “No regrets” which essentially refers to the practice of picking activities that work for you and your child; eg; taking your kids to the pool. Younger children, especially crave to spend time with you and most of all, learn from watching you. Pick an outdoor activity that both of you can do together; gardening, a walk in the park, cycling or playing a sport. 

8. Neighbourhood walks

These are a great way of getting your child familiar with the neighbourhood, letting them explore and discover sights and sounds. Don’t be disappointed if your child isn’t thrilled at the idea at first, keep at it and they’ll enjoy it more as they get familiar with the concept. 

9. Use natural toys

Nature has plenty of “ toys” to provide when we use our imagination. Little sticks and twigs, tree stumps to sit on, branches to climb on, a log to balance or sit on, mud to “cook” with, pebbles and stones for mixing and counting, insects to observe and seeds to collect. Encourage your child to use these in their play. They can collect rocks and stones, different shaped leaves, seeds and fruits and learn so much in the process. It allows them to use their imagination and create interesting games with these materials, beyond toys that do everything for them. 

10. Backyard Picnics

We included this in our list of summer activities and it might just be on the top of the favourite list. A little tent or a picnic blanket, some snacks, a ball or a game to play and you’re good to go. You can always let them go old school with a game of hopscotch, catch or hide and seek. You can always upgrade from the backyard to an outdoor picnic when time permits. 

11. Explore city parks and sights

With some research and planning, you will find many parks and child-friendly spaces in your city. It can be a public park, a little hiking trail, a cycling ground, a petting farm, a bird sanctuary, a running track or a lake. Next time you want to plan an outing for the kids, ditch the mall and opt for a day out. Your child might not be very excited about hiking or a nature walk but with repetition, they’ll get better at it and begin to see the beauty in it. 

Children have plenty to learn from observing nature and being outdoors. From physical exercise to sensory play and sparking imagination and curiosity, spending time outdoors has plenty of benefits for children. Give your child plenty of opportunities to connect with nature and explore spaces safely outside and it’ll nurture a life-long love for the outdoors.  

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