About 30 per cent of parents worry that their child is not spending enough time playing outside. A roughly similar amount worry that games consoles and technology are negatively impacting upon their development.
But what do you about this? How, as a parent, can you get the children to venture outside and enjoy the outdoors? Here are five positive things to help you on your way…
The first and simplest way to get your children to embrace the outdoor comes through school. If you send your child to the right school, the teachers will embrace creative and stimulating ways of building in outdoor learning. These days, when you look for primary teaching jobs or leaf through a school prospectus you’ll notice that the schools deploying this aspect of learning best will promote it as a key strength. By searching these out you’ll be giving your child a good chance of finding their own love of the outdoors in a practical and beneficial way.
Sports-mad kids will always love the outdoors. Encourage your child to find the sports that they love best by taking them to live events or having fun games with the family where they can learn the ropes. Help them to attend clubs wherever they can as this will capture their passion and take it on further. Be supportive without getting pushy, the latter could have the opposite effect and cause them to resent sports. Equally, trust your child to go with their friends to nearby parks to play sport with their friends.
The one outdoor environment you have most control over is your own, so use it wisely to get the kids heading outside. Create space for play equipment if you can and remember that a love of the outdoors isn’t just about sporty activities. Get your children to help with planting and caring for flowers in your garden. This article from the Guardian shows how it is perfectly possible to foster a love of gardening at an early age.
Your child will associate the outdoors with fun if you can take them on some great trips out. Country walks, visits to historic sites, picnics in the park, outdoor swimming pool sessions, boating, cycling or countless other pursuits will all establish a relationship between your child and the outdoors. Make such activities a staple of the school holidays and, where possible, summer weekends. They’ll cherish these days and fully appreciate the joy of the great outdoors in the process.
If you’re going to encourage your child to set aside the Xbox controller and get outside, then you might well need a bit of the ‘wow factor’. Luckily, Mother Nature has got plenty of that up her sleeve, you just need to find the aspects that work best for your little ones. Maybe it’s bird spotting, stargazing or an amazing sunset? You could even start them off with a visit to somewhere like the National Space Centre in Leicester or London’s Natural History Museum to kick start their enjoyment of the world around them.