Posted on June 9, 2016 by CHS
As a busy parent, you’re probably juggling ways to help your child learn, stay healthy, and keep busy. One of the best multi-tasking activities for children is playing in nature, because they can learn, exercise, and have fun all at the same time.
According to the Children & Nature Network (C&NN), “Children who play outdoors in nature tend to be happier, healthier, and smarter. They do better in school, are more physically active, are more creative, and less stressed.”
As the childhood obesity epidemic continues to grow, help keep your child healthy by encouraging them to get outside and play. Join them for some quality time and opportunities to teach math, science, and nutrition concepts. Outdoor activity can help set children up for a lifetime of health, and includes the following benefits:
- Improves emotional and mental well-being.
- Unstructured outdoor play builds confidence, creativity, and imagination.
- Muscular development through climbing, pulling, pushing, throwing, kicking, and running.
- Improved ability to focus and reduced symptoms of attention deficit disorder.
- Provides stimulation for multiple senses – hearing, touch, smell, and sight.
- Stress relief for children who have suffered trauma or are under an extreme amount of stress.
- Nature provides space for children to challenge themselves, solve problems, and build their self-esteem.
- Helps develop care and compassion.
Ideas for Fun, Educational Outdoor Activities with Your Child
- Play hide-and-seek type games with objects you find in nature to encourage memory skills.
- Take them in a stroller for a walk outside, letting them touch things like leaves, tree bark, rocks, or flowers; talk about what they feel like, smell like, etc.
- Go to a local park or take a short nature hike. Take a bag or container and encourage your child to collect interesting objects she sees like small round stones, leaves, seed pods, or flowers. When you get home, help her sort her treasures into categories, such as color, texture, size, and shape.
- After a family dinner, go out for a walk together. Pay attention to what creatures and sounds come out at night that they don’t normally see or hear during the day; point out stars and constellations in the sky.
- Go outside after it rains and look at the worms as they come out; let your child jump in puddles, or give them some tools like popsicle sticks, rubber bands, and pieces of wood to try and construct a boat and see what will float.
- Get a book with pictures and information about birds, plants, rocks, or bugs. Take it outside with your child to see if you can find the items in the book, then teach your child about them when you find one.
- Go bike-riding together and explore the trees, parks, or creeks around your neighborhood. If you have a bike with a basket, use it to collect items like pretty leaves, unique rocks; take small jars to collect bugs to take home and study.
To learn more about the benefits of time in nature for children, read the following articles, full of in-depth information and ideas: