Did you know that not so long ago, children were spending on average 5 to 6 hours playing outdoors per day, and this is compared to children of today who are spending on average 50 minutes playing outside each day! What are they doing then if they are not outside? Research has identified that children of today are spending approximately 9 hours per day in a seat, whether this be in the classroom, doing homework, watching TV, or playing video games. A great shift has occurred which has seen all of society become increasingly busy. But if there is time to play a video game, there is time to read this blog, and if there is time to read this blog, there is time for nature play!
One of my favourite memories as a child was spending endless hours outside with my sisters collecting flowers, dirt, and different garden treasures to make a “Witches Stew”. No matter how many times we made it, we always found new ways to add to it and make our recipe better. If the sun was out, we would rarely be inside, unless of course, we were looking for food. I encourage you to stop and consider your favourite childhood memory and have a conversation with your children around their favourite memory. Adventures in the outdoors can create many special memories, but it has so many more benefits!
In “Balanced and Barefoot” (Hanscom 2016), an image is created of nearly an entire class having difficulties attending and focusing in the classroom. With increased sitting in a classroom, poor posture, endurance, core strength and coordination are encouraged. If a class is required to sit for too long, a decrease in attention and concentration, and an increase in fidgeting and behaviours of concern will be noticeable. We are all experts of our own body so listen to children when they are fidgeting, they are trying to tell us they need to move! And what better way to get moving then to head outside. Nature play encourages brain development, social skills and even a healthy immune system. And, unsurprisingly, has an opposite effect to sitting down, by improving posture, endurance, core strength and coordination!
Here is a very small list of outdoor activities to get you started; but the list is endless! See how many activities you can come up with, and how many your children can come up with.