Today’s kids are busier than ever, and their calendars are packed with school and extracurricular activities. Even play can be scheduled down to the minute and overly structured to the point where kids aren’t so much playing as they are following a routine. This is not helped by the fact that many children today spend so much time in child care centers while their parents work. A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that preschoolers averaged just 48 minutes per day of active playtime while they were in day care. The same study also concluded that children were far more likely to be active while they were outdoors, making getting kids out into nature a high priority.
Being active and playing outdoors has numerous short-term and long-term benefits for children, especially children under 10 years old. According to the National Wildlife Federation, not only does active play outdoors help kids in terms of physical fitness, but it also helps stimulate their minds and spirits by reducing stress levels and developing abstract problem-solving skills. Among the primary benefits of active play outdoors according to the federation include:
Getting Out There
Given how important getting outside and playing is for young kids, parents should take the responsibility to encourage their families to spend more time outdoors and explore nature in ways that stimulate kids’ curiosity and enthusiasm. Fortunately, there are many ways families can get together and play in the great outdoors that can go a long way toward getting kids to enjoy healthier and more productive lifestyles now and later in life.
Here are some suggestions for activities you and your family can do outside to help your children discover the benefits of playing outdoors and create more opportunities for them to spend time outside: