Research continues to prove over and over what we as parents inherently know: time outdoors is good for kids (and adults!) So why does it feel so challenging to get outside more often? In our fast-paced, screen-driven society it can feel like there are quite a few obstacles, but here are some compelling reasons to slow down a bit and to take time to smell the roses. Or, to walk barefoot in the grass, watch bugs crawl, to feel the breeze …
1. Increases creativity and cognitive function
Because all five senses are engaged when outdoors, children are naturally more creative. Their imaginations are activated and they are more likely to create their own games which employs all of the logic and reasoning skills that come with this type of play. Did you know there are areas of the world with outdoor classrooms? Studies have proven that children in these environments actually perform better across the board in all subjects.
2. Encourages physical activity and increases physical coordination and stamina
Because nature is full of asymmetrical surfaces and varying textures, the body is forced to adapt to this environment. This means greater stability, coordination and awareness as the child plays and interacts with the natural surroundings. Nature encourages exploration, play and movement which means kids are exercising without even realizing it!
3. Reduces stress, fatigue and anxiety
Natural settings encourage tuning in to the present moment and helps create a sense of mindfulness similar to meditation. Simply put: the brain is allowed to relax while still engaging with the environment.
Here are some ideas to get outside!
- Grow flowers or a vegetable garden
- Go on nature walks or simple hikes as a family
- Camp somewhere in the “wild” (or even sleep in a tent in your own backyard!)
- Pick berries
- Play in the sand by a lake or seaside (or in a sandbox!)
- Eat your meals picnic style
- Gather art supplies and channel your inner Monet
- Grab binoculars and a simple guidebook and birdwatch
- Investigate bugs with a magnifying glass