In our fast paced and highly technological world, sometimes kids need a little prompting to encourage them to play outdoors. Here are some ideas for getting kids outside and engaged with outdoor play.
Make getting outside a destination adventure
Sometimes a seemingly mundane activity can sound fantastical if you begin by talking it up. This generates enthusiasm and encourages curiosity. Pick a destination and make an adventure out of getting there and back. Pack a bag with the necessities for your ‘trip’. Plan your adventure. Let your child lead the way.
Keep playgrounds fresh!
This is particularly important if you live in an urban environment. Once a week set aside time to go to a local playground. The key here is to not always visit the same playground weekly. Find different playgrounds to visit. There are some pretty neat playgrounds out there!
Check out a local ‘green’ space or park
One of the best ways to get kids engaged with nature and spending time outdoors is to expose them to interesting green space opportunities.
There are all kinds of green space destinations to visit: local parks, Botanical Gardens, Butterfly Conservatories, Children’s Nature Gardens, Pick your own farms, Zoos, Waterfronts, Trails, etc
Do something you would ordinarily do inside – outside
Do your kids like to draw, model play dough, paint, drive cars, assemble puzzles, dress up, etc? What about taking an activity they would normally do inside, out. Have you ever had breakfast outside? You can tie this into a destination adventure or to change up a local green space visit.
Spend time in a yard
Sometimes this will take a prop or two to get things going, but over time children will learn how to create their own fun – unstructured play! The most important form of play that exists!
Prop ideas: jar of bubble solution and bubble wands, some sidewalk chalk, a stack of sticks and a sheet, two buckets and some measuring cups, paint brushes and water, a pirate hat, a magnifying glass… the ideas are endless.
In the beginning, if children are not used to unstructured outdoor play they might need some prompting to encourage them to enjoy their time. This is one of the reasons it is so important to introduce unstructured outdoor play to younger children because they will take full benefit as they grow and develop. For slightly older children, it may take a bit of unlearning to grasp the concept!
Above all, make each experience positive by encouraging outdoor play with enthusiasm. They are looking to you as models. If you present the opportunity in an exciting way, it will already be fun!
Plus, read the benefits of risky outdoor play.