Getting outdoors together is something many families don’t do enough of these days. It’s fun, it’s educational, and it has lots of health benefits. Active kids have a much lower risk of becoming obese and developing associated diseases later in life. They also build up stronger immune systems and healthy muscles and bones. Studies show that adults who spend more time close to nature are less likely to develop stress related health problems, so it’s great to get kids into good habits early in life.
Making outdoor activities appealing when they have to compete with computers and TV isn’t easy, so here are a few suggestions to help get the family moving – all year round.
Small children particularly enjoy having the chance to explore wild places at their own pace, with adults there to help them learn about the things they find. Nature walks can be combined with foraging for wild food, collecting seeds to grow at home or discovering the ways that different animals make their homes.
Any kid with an interest in space will love having the chance to learn about the night sky and all the things that can be seen there. Mobile phone apps can help identify constellations. It’s not too expensive these days to buy a good telescope, and many can be attached to cameras so discoveries can be saved for later learning
If walking is seen as boring, why not take the family out rollerblading? These days it’s possible to get good quality rollerblades for kids without breaking the bank, and more and more places have rollerblade rinks for trying out stunts. Even on the flat, there’s lots of fun to be had from a race, and kids will love it if they can outdo the grown-ups.
For quieter times, gardening is a wonderful hobby, teaching kids about where food comes from, helping them learn responsibility and giving them the thrill of getting to eat what they’ve grown for themselves. It may even get them eating vegetables that they wouldn’t previously have touched.
There are few family adventures as exciting to kids as camping, especially if it involves sleeping outside under the stars. It provides the opportunity to learn lots of practical skills and to develop confidence stemming from a feeling of self-sufficiency. Kids will enjoy it more if they get to do lots of things directly and, potentially, have their own separate small tents.
Even in winter there’s fun to be had outdoors. If there’s a suitable rink nearby, families can go skating together. Snowball fights are great fun and building shouldn’t be limited to snowmen – if the white stuff is deep enough, a snow fort is great fun to build, to play in and to defend.
Whatever approach is first taken to getting kids outside, as long as it’s focused on them and changes according to their input, they’re likely to want more. Why not set aside a day for outdoor family fun every week?
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