As parents, it can be a constant struggle to get our kids away from screens and out the door. With so many distractions and entertainment options indoors, it can be hard to motivate children to explore nature and be active.
However, the benefits of outdoor play and nature exposure are numerous and well-documented. From improving physical health and mental wellness to fostering creativity and problem-solving skills, getting kids out of the house and into the outdoors is beneficial not only for their physical health and well-being but also for their cognitive development and overall happiness.
Step Out the Door
Getting outside can be as simple as taking a walk around the block or having a picnic in the backyard. Parents can also look into community programs such as the YMCA or Boys and Girls Club, which often offer low-cost or free outdoor activities.
In addition to planning specific outdoor activities, parents can also encourage outdoor play by creating an outdoor-friendly environment at home. This can include things like a sandbox, a swing set, a trampoline in the backyard, or simply having a designated area for playing with balls or other outdoor toys. Also, kids love beaches, so frequent trips to the beach, weather permitting, are usually always a hit.
Another way to get kids interested in the outdoors is by encouraging them to go camping or hiking. These activities not only provide an opportunity for kids to learn about nature but also to take responsibility for their own nourishment and hone their self-preservation skills.
There’s this thrilling sense of autonomy and survivability that people experience when they’re camping. The notion is that they’re in charge of their survival, and they’re able to rely on much less than the comforts of modern living that they’re typically used to.
Just ensure they’re in a contained and safe area outdoors, whether it be in your backyard or somewhere visible from the house on your property. If you choose to camp with them remotely, make sure there’s a code of rules that they acknowledge in order to stay safe while camping!
Then we have the bigger brother of the leisurely stroll around the block, and that’s hiking.
Hiking is wonderful for kids as it gives them a goal to accomplish – reaching a destination. It’s also a calming exercise they can do to get out their energy and even teaches them a lesson in perseverance and diligence.
On the Road Again
One of the best ways to get kids interested in the outdoors is by taking a road trip! Yes, you can plan a whole trip around getting out of the house to get closer to nature.
There’s a plethora of options to consider when formulating a trip. For instance, if it's in the cards, consider investing in an RV to take the family around the state or country. If the cost is too much initially, rental RVs are also a viable alternative. The beauty of RV camping is that many areas and campgrounds across the U.S. are fit to accommodate large vehicles onsite.
Comparable to an RV is good ol’ fashioned car camping! If your family is small enough, you could pack your road trip supplies into a van, truck, or SUV and plot out specific vistas around the state to set up camp.
You could take the opportunity of a road trip to visit one of the national parks, as these can be amazing, memorable experiences for kids. Just stay wary of which parks are most approachable for young kids, as each national park can vary in terms of intensity to navigate them.
Go on, Get Out There With Them!
Finally, it is important for parents to set a good example by spending time in nature themselves. Children are more likely to be interested in outdoor activities if they see their parents participating and enjoying them. So, the next time you're planning a family outing, make it a point to leave the screens behind and head outside to explore the beauty and wonder of nature.
By overcoming barriers such as a lack of knowledge or perception that outdoor activities are expensive and by making outdoor play fun and interactive, parents can help their children develop a love for nature and an appreciation for the great outdoors.