Why Kids Need to Play in Nature
Kayleigh works as a freelance content writer for Forest Holidays. Forest Holidays promotes the benefits of nature for kids. It’s good for us mentally and physically. Getting back to nature allows us the chance to relax and reconnect with the wider world around us. And while time spent outside is good for everyone, it’s most important in the development of children. Kayleigh is a Mum to a 6-year-old and an 8-year-old, Kayleigh is very familiar with the struggle of trying to get your kids away from screens and out the door. She hopes by sharing actionable advice parents and kids alike can learn to love quality time in nature.
Spending time in nature allows us to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life, but it also provides a wide range of benefits for our physical and mental health.
Research has shown that spending time in nature may help to:
- Reduce stress
- Improve creativity and cognitive function
- Boost our immune systems
- Lower blood pressure
So, whether you enjoy hiking, camping, or simply taking a walk in the park, prioritising time in nature can lead to a happier, healthier, and more balanced life.
The world around us is amazing. Every day, trees grow, plants bloom and all sorts of animals make their homes on every terrain imaginable. But it’s easy to ignore or underappreciate nature in our busy modern lives, and doing so as adults means this behaviour can feed down to our kids.
In today's digital age, children are spending more time indoors glued to screens rather than exploring the great outdoors. But as a parent, you know how important it is for your child's physical and mental health to get outside and play. So how can we get off the sofa and get more of the great outdoors into our lives? Let’s take a look.
Find an activity that they love
Getting kids to spend time outdoors can be a real challenge. With so many screens vying for their attention, it can be tough to convince them that the great outdoors is just as entertaining – if not more so. The key is finding an activity that they really enjoy, and that's easier said than done. But there are a few things you can do to get started.
To start, try to tap into their interests. Do they love exploring? Try taking them on a hike or encouraging them to go off the beaten path in a local park. Do they love competition? See if there are any local sports teams or clubs, they might be interested in joining. Regardless of what piques their interest, just remember that the most important thing is to get them outside and enjoying themselves.
If they’re particularly social, or would benefit from having someone to try a new activity with, then see if you can make arrangements to meet up with their friends to give them a confidence boost.
Explore nature together
It’s not much fun for kids if you take them to a forest, only for you to stand at the side whilst they run around by themselves. Instead, try to make it a collective experience – there are plenty of ways to explore the wild. Hunt for bugs together, complete an animal walk, read a story, or even make your own as you go.
While it might not be your first choice of activity, and you may worry about looking silly, your child will appreciate the extra effort. They’ll create amazing memories with you, and you’ll build a closer bond as a result.
Mix up your routine
Often, we rely on routine with kids, and are reluctant to break it – but there’s no harm in changing up elements of it once in a while, even if the timings remain the same. Instead of kicking a ball in the back garden, why not head out to the park instead? Or, instead of just getting out your normal arts and crafts, why not go and collect leaves for a nature collage?
By making a conscious effort to include nature in your life, you’re far more likely to succeed. If we rely on going for a walk only occasionally, for example, it’s easily overlooked, and your child will have missed out on valuable outdoor experiences. Outdoor play is key to child development.
Keep it short and sweet
It can feel hard to find the time to frequently take kids to new places, but you don’t have to venture far away to get the benefits of being outside. Even playing in the garden, growing your own vegetables in pots or window boxes, or taking a new route when you walk to the shops is still spending time outdoors. Don’t feel pressured to create an elaborate day out – even spending 20 minutes in nature has been shown to reduce stress levels.
No matter how you decide to spend your time in nature, you can be sure that it’s benefiting both you and your kids.