I’m sure some of you will remember being told to come inside as soon as the street lights come on. Do you remember why we were told that?
It’s because we were outside. Yes, outdoors — playing, dreaming, discovering.
The only time we did indoor activities happened when it was too cold or wet.
There is something intuitive about kids and the outdoors.
Have you watched a baby explore the leaves on the trees. I know my babies were the most content in a stroller parked under a tree than in the house. The breezes, the movement of the clouds and the birds. They loved to play on a blanket and just watch.
Or how about lying in the sand? Just laughing from pure joy?
Are parents still doing this with their children? Do they go on walks to the park? Ride bikes around the neighbourhood? Explore in their backyards? Play in the mud?
Grandpa built a “mud kitchen” for our grandkids — a way to play and make a mess but enjoy the outdoors too. They make up stories, delight in pretending and “play house”.
Are kids today so regimented in their activities that they are not allowed to dream, to create and to explore the natural world? Let’s let them live in God’s creation.
Here are 8 ways to entice your children away from their screens and outside into the wide beautiful world. It’s spring in North America and the weather is delightful.
1) Plant a garden.
It doesn’t have to be big. Start indoors with seeds and watch the seedlings grow. Then transplant in the spring. Let your kids do it. Don’t worry about perfection. Think about experience. Let them get dirty. Mud play is messy but fun. By looking after the plants the children learn responsibility. Taking care of something by remembering to water it. Charting the growth of your plants helps them see time and life.
2) Go for a walk in the woods.
Examine everything. Take some things home (unless the park tells you not to). Be ready to make a picture with the found materials. Be ready for your children to either write or dictate a story to you about their adventure. Read adventure stories. This builds creativity and imagination. It expands their artistic side — the right brain.
3) Play outdoor games.
All ball games are terrific for playing as a family. Ladder Golf. Mazes. Basketball. Road hockey. Baseball. Exercise is important for building strong bodies. And helps curb restlessness. If my grandson is getting restless I send him outside to run around the house.
4) Take bike rides together and as a family.
Make an outdoor map and have one of the kids be the leader. Or ride around and come back and make a map from memory. See, explore, build strong muscles.
5) Visit the park and playground equipment.
I am sure there is a park nearby your home. Take your children (we can’t send them any more) to the park. See what games they come up with on the climbers and slides. Don’t stifle their desire to try new skills. This builds confidence that translates into other areas of life.
6) Explore a new natural setting.
Go somewhere different. Check out the plant life. As children see the world as God created it they will ask questions about why it is this like this? Who created this? They will become more attune to how the earth can be harmed and will be better at caring for our world.
7) Visit a farm.
Plan to visit a farm or apple orchard. Pick your own berries. Talk to the farmer about how the fruit/vegetables get to this stage of harvesting. Great lessons on preparing, planning, working hard and harvest. Let your children pet the animals. And take an opportunity to hug a chicken! Encourage them to ask questions.
8) Be an Outdoor Artist.
If you have a fence use a board up against it and let your children paint with large brushes and bright colours. Take rubbings of trees — see the differences of barks. Paint a rock or shell. Collect things to take home and examine.
Resources to stimulate your thinking out of the screen.
How the Outdoors Can Help Nurture Your Child.
2) Expands creativity and imagination
3) Builds strong muscles, and co-operation in play
4) Helps in visualizing the world from a bird’s eye viewpoint
5) Builds confidence
6) Shows children that God is our Creator
7) Teaches the cycles of growth
8) Allows pure fun — for the pleasure of expression
Can you plan outdoor time to encourage your child to not become addicted to screens?
Do you want to develop ingenuity, creativity and sheer joy of living in your child?
If not, I hope this article will excite you to try to add some of these things to your child’s life.