For many individuals across generations, outdoor play was a staple of summertime as a youth. To be sure, many of us didn’t have access to a wide array of screens and electronic toys, and didn’t find ourselves overbooked with extracurricular activities outside of school; instead, much of our free time during the summer, which may have been in abundance, was spent wandering around outside with a few of our closest friends, exploring the world, playing sports, or simply learning more about the mysteries of nature.
Sadly, however, outdoor play is regarded nowhere near as highly as it once was. The advent of handheld electronics has played a significant part in the demise of outdoor play; in addition, many children now have exponentially more responsibilities, from music practice to technology lessons, to other activities performed inside. Of course, some parents now believe that there are too many dangers in the outdoor world and that kids should instead remain inside where they can be protected.
Ultimately, we believe that outdoor play is a necessary component of a happy and healthy childhood and that all children should have the opportunity to get outside on a daily basis and have fun. And if you need a few suggestions to get your little ones out the door this summer, consider the following tips on how to encourage outdoor play and get ready to have a blast together.
Schedule Outdoor Play
So many parents choose to fill their children’s schedules with a variety of different activities. Some kids may spend an hour a day playing the piano while others may have lessons on reading, writing, or basic computer programming.
And while it may sound strange at first, scheduling in unstructured, outdoor play can be just as beneficial for your child as these structured activities. Children need time away from routines and structure; they often thrive when they are able to pick the activity themselves, or are simply allowed to get lost in their imagination with a few of their closest friends.
So this summer, if your child is busy with activities, find a few hours of the week to schedule unstructured outdoor play, where your little one can simply be a child for a few minutes and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.
So many things in nature offer a wildly sensory experience, from leaves, to tree bark, to even the grass on the ground. But unfortunately, from years of being expected to look but not touch, many children avoid physical contact with anything in the outside world, and instead solely appreciate it with their eyes.
In reality, you can provide your children with a positive sensory experience by letting them touch and feel anything they come across (within reason, of course). During their time spent outside, you should encourage them to touch the grass and roll around in it, run their hands across the bark on the trees, smell the flowers, and even stare up in the sky at clouds. This sensory experience will help them develop a greater appreciation for the beauty of nature, and will allow them to become more comfortable with the great outdoors.
Go Outside with Toys in Hand
As parents, we know that one of the easiest ways to get kids excited about doing anything is by providing them with a host of fun toys. To be sure, imagine the prospect of having your little ones clean their playrooms, and then consider the same scenario if they are able to do so with a new toy by their side. Overall, the latter scenario would most likely result in the least kicking and screaming.
Here, then, consider transferring that over into the realm of outdoor play. If you want to find out how to encourage kids outdoor play, simply find a few awesome outdoor toys that your little ones are sure to love, and head out the back door together. For example, if your little ones backyard games, consider trying out the Fling a Ring toy, which is somewhat of a combination of horseshoes and lawn darts, and is truly a fun activity for the entire family. Or, if your kids like football or baseball, or just throwing a ball in general, try out the 2-in-1 Sports Trainer toy. This awesome sports toy will help your little one improve his or her throwing accuracy if he or she plays sports; or, in contrast, he or she can simply enjoy the fun of throwing a ball at a target. Either way, this is a great tip to get kids playing outdoors.
Head Outside This Summer
Don’t let the summer come to an end without getting outdoors with your little ones. And if you need a few tips to get kids playing in nature, try these guidelines and head outside with the family.