Have you ever told your child to go play in the mud? When was the last time you played in the mud, splashed in the puddles or watched the sun set and listened to the night sounds? There is a concern these days that our children are spending more time inside than outside.
Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder tells of the time he was interviewing a child who told him he liked playing indoors more than outdoors “cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are.” YIKES!
Why Go Outside?
Being outdoors is beneficial and some say, necessary for both children and adults. Most studies on this subject suggest that kids who play outside are smarter, happier, more attentive and less anxious than those who spend the majority of their time indoors.
Nature is good for kids’ minds because playing in nature is less structured. There are so many different ways that children can interact with the outdoor environment. This kind of unstructured play promotes creativity and imagination. It teaches responsibility of taking care of the things in nature and caring for all God’s creatures.
Playing outside also gets kids moving, thinking and relaxing in ways that not even playing organized sports can do.
If you would like to learn more about the positive effects of the outdoors on kids click here.
Ideas for Getting Your Kids into Nature
It might not be so easy to pry your kids away from their screens and into the backyard, at least at first. The Childmind site has some ideas that will make nature as stimulating and interesting as the things kids like to do inside.
For instance, you could set up a treasure hunt of things for your children to look for outside such as a shiny object or an acorn. You can customize the list to pique the interest of any age child.
Get a book with pictures of birds or insects and go outside to look for some specific creatures from the book to identify.
Help your child start a collection of items from nature like rocks or shells.
Use technology for the purposes of photographing or even making a video journal of the things found in nature.
And then there is the always popular activity of using things found in nature for art projects like pressing flowers or painting rocks.
These are just some of the suggestions on this site for helping to make being outdoors fun and rewarding for kids. To get to the site, click here.
Now, what are you waiting for? Get your children and make some mudpies!