Even with my own desire to instill in my children a love for the outdoors, it is difficult at times to get the kids excited for the outdoors.
It is difficult to tear them away from the screens and, if I’m honest, even more difficult to tear myself away from my work and go out with them.
However, just because something is difficult, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be attempted so I’ve compiled these resources to inspire you and help you get your kids excited for the outdoors.
What Happened To Playing Outside?
It’s been more than a generation since children spent the greatest part of their waking hours out of doors.
In the space of a century, the American experience of nature- culturally influential around the world- has gone from direct utilitarianism to romantic attachment to electronic detachment.Richard Louv, Last Child in the Wood, p. 16
I remember days spent running through corn fields and feeling the sharp edges of the corn stalks making small cuts in my arms. I remember the excitement of getting to the fence row early enough to “pop” the morning glories before they awakened.
My parents didn’t have to tell me to go outside. I was eager to get up and get out every summer morning. But those days are gone.
Many factors and changes to society over the past one hundred years have led to the marked decline in playing outside. Certainly the invention of the automobile and other modern transportation methods led to a decrease in the exposure we all have to the outdoors.
Add to that, an increasingly computerized work force where most of our work is no longer done by hand in the outdoors, but rather behind the screen of a computer and it’s no wonder we all suffer from what Richard Louv calls, “Nature-Deficit Disorder”.
You will find on this page resources available on VeraVise Outdoor Living to help you and your kids get excited about the outdoors. It is a living document that will grow over time and hopefully serve as source of encouragement, inspiration, and challenge.
While we all desire to do things well and perfectly, when it comes to getting the kids outside, even the smallest effort can have great reward.
Why is it important for a child to play outside?
Before we dive into specific activities to get the kids outside, let’s talk just briefly about why is important for a child to play outside.
Over the past decade, thankfully, there has been a slow growing movement to get back to the importance of having children play outside. Certainly, within the homeschool movement, nature study and out of door play has taken hold.
But why? Why are there so many parents waking up to the need to get their kids outside more?
Richard Louv states,
“Nature is often overlooked as a healing balm for the emotional hardships in a child’s life. You’ll likely never see a slick commercial for nature therapy, as you do for the latest antidepressant pharmaceuticals. But parents, educators, and health workers need to know what a useful antidote to emotional and physical stress nature can be. Especially now.”Richard Louv, Last Child In The Woods, p. 49
Benefits of Playing Outside
Louv spends considerable effort making the case and sharing numerous studies which have proven nature to be beneficial to both physical health and restorative for mental health. Given the marked obesity in our nation, getting kids outside playing at an early age will help them develop active lifestyle habits which can lead to lifelong benefits. These are just a few of the benefits of playing outside for young kids.
- Increased physical activity leads to healthier weight and decreased disease
- Emotional and mental well being is improved by being in the outdoors
- Better sleep habits when children are allowed to run and play outside
- Increases imaginative play and stimulates creativity
Now, that we have established that playing outside is important for children, how do you encourage them to do so? Kids will get excited for the outdoors when YOU get excited for the outdoors. That is really the first step to getting them excited.
5 Tips To Get Kids Excited For The Outdoors
If you are looking for inspiration, here are 5 Tips to get kids excited for the outdoors.
1. Go Outside With Your Child
Perhaps the biggest hurdle to getting children to play outside for modern parents is that we, ourselves, have developed poor habits when it comes to going outside. Certainly, as a writer myself, I spend a great deal of my time behind the computer screen and I must make a concerted effort to get outside every day. However, if getting your children outside is important to you, then like all lessons, teaching by example is the best way to encourage a child to play outside.
If you can’t make time to play with your children, at least move your work to the outdoors while they play. But, taking just 30 minutes to play a game of capture the flag or simply taking them for a walk around the neighborhood is a great way to start.
2. Play Outdoor Games
Another great way to encourage your child to play outside is to create DIY outdoor games with them. Making homemade bubbles, handmade kites, or sidewalk chalk is fun for kids and once they have this new homemade “toy” they will be eager to take it outside to play.
Another fun thing to get the kids excited about the outdoors is to introduce them to the outdoor games you remember from your childhood. My kids recently discovered a book called, Appalachian Toys & Games and it’s chock full of fun games they love playing outside. Remember some of these?
- Kick the Can
- Red Rover
- Capture The Flag
3. Take Kids On A Hike
One of the best ways to get kids excited about going outdoors is to take them on a hike. We have several resources to help you get started hiking with your kids.
- Tips For Taking Kids On A Hike
- Best Kids Hydration Packs
- 25 Easy National Park Hikes Your Kids Will Love
- Best Hikes In The Smoky Mountains For Kids
4. Keep An Idea Box With Outdoor Activities For Kids
Start collecting a list of outdoor activities for kids that you can pull from when the boredom sinks in and the inspiration runs out. Create a box with ideas written on index cards or pieces of paper in a jar and let the kids choose a new activity for each day.
You can start with some of the posts we have provided here on VeraVise Outdoor Living.
- 100+ Outdoor Activities For Kids
- Start A Vegetable Container Garden With Kids
- 21 Outdoor Toys For Kids To Get Them Excited About Going Outside
- DIY Outdoor Family Games
- Go On a Backyard Nature Hunt
- Create Holiday Crafts With Things Found in the Outdoors
5. Go On A Scavenger Hunt
Take the kids on a scavenger hunt. They will LOVE IT, trust me! If you’ve never tried, it, try Geocaching. It’s a super fun way to do a scavenger hunt in just about anywhere in the US.
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