The digital world is upon us and expanding by the day. This is shaping our society and our children in so many different ways. While technology and cartoons on the telly do have their benefits from time to time, it is still important for our kids to head outdoors and experience the freedom of unstructured play amongst nature.
The figures are eye-opening: on average, kids in America spend five to eight hours every day in front of a digital screen. [https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-32067158] . A study found that three-quarters of children in the UK spend less time outside than prison inmates. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/25/three-quarters-of-uk-children-spend-less-time-outdoors-than-prison-inmates-survey]
These behaviours are not limited to the northern hemisphere. The same technology obsession is taking place all over the world.
We need to do something about it!
Outdoor play is a fantastic exploration for kids. It provides mental, physical and emotional stimulation that can’t be replicated indoors.
Here are some reasons why you should encourage your children to go on adventures to discover the wonders of the great outdoors.
Physical Activity And Development
Though we all know kids can and do run around inside, there will always be restrictions on how physical and creative they can get. Studies show that active kids are more likely to become active adults’, combating illnesses like obesity and promoting good health and fitness.
Outdoor play also provides a huge variety of movement – from tree climbing and jumping rope to doing cartwheels and crawling through long grass. This range of exercise and movement helps develop coordination, balance, flexibility and muscle strength.
Children have fantastic imaginations and an endless ability to play and create. The outdoor world is full of opportunities to play together in an unstructured way. While many indoor pursuits are solitary or too organised, outdoor group play allows kids to interact with their peers and learn essential social skills in the process.
How many times have you been to the playground, swimming pool or park and your children have started playing with new “friends” they have met on the spot? That kind of social building is pretty unlikely to happen between the four walls of your house.
Ignite Curiosity And Stimulate The Senses
Encourage your child’s sense of curiosity and wonder about the world around them by heading outside and using all their senses. As nature is continually changing, so are the scents, noises, sights, and textures around them. Why do the leaves change colour or fall from the trees? How do caterpillars become butterflies? What are clouds?
While the “why” stage of a child’s learning can be tiring for parents, it is a precious opportunity to impart knowledge about the world – or learn together. After all, who hasn’t’ had to Google an answer on the go when your wee one asks a particularly sticky question?
Promote Good Health
Vitamin D is essential for building healthy bones, lifting moods, and promoting healthy sleep patterns. Heading outside is the only way to get this essential nutrient. In summer and winter, half an hour in the sun gives us our daily requirement.
While parents may be reluctant to let kids head out into the cold wintery weather for fear of colds and flu, it’s actually indoors where most of the nasty germs and bacteria are hiding. Recycled air in the house is a ripe breeding ground for bacteria, so heading outdoors to play in puddles or make snowmen in the fresh air is much healthier.
Soothe And Balance Moods
Research has proven that spending time in nature increases the level of serotonin in our bodies, calming our nerves and improving our mood. This applies to people of all ages. Playing and learning outside can be a calming and relaxing experience for children, reducing stress.
And it doesn’t take much time at all for this effect to take place. A 15-min run around after preschool, hitting the playground on the way home, or even a game of catch in the backyard can be all you need to see results.
Remember: The Right Equipment
Let’s face it, you don’t need much equipment to enjoy the great outdoors. There are many ways you can make your own fun with nature’s toys – sticks, long grass, rocks, sea shells and so many other things make great playing accessories.
But, you do want to be weary of the weather. Even the middle of summer can produce a rainy day, and you don’t want to be stuck inside because of it. So, make sure you have a great raincoat in your cupboard for the days when the weather is less than ideal. It will allow you to get out and enjoy the outdoors without the worry of getting cold and wet.
Here at Little Ducks we have some great gear to keep little ones dry – ranging from raincoats, to overpants and even overalls. No matter the weather, we have you covered. Check out the range now so that you can adventure in any weather.
Regardless of the weather, giving your kids free rein to head outside and discover the world is a precious learning experience that helps them grow into balanced, healthy adults.