As a parent, you must have heard about the importance of playtime for your kids, either from your own parents, or from fellow parents at your children’s school. The truth is, your little ones do need to frequently go out and spend their fair share of time amidst nature for their optimal development.
Let’s give you a broader insight on why going out and engaging with nature is so important for your kids.
1. Unstructured Nature Time to Save the Demise of Outdoor Play
Indoor play has become the new ‘normal’ thing for our kids. Unlike in the past, kids have to fight around to get the required drive for outdoor play. With so many turbulent things on the path, it isn’t easy anymore. Kids are often so over-scheduled that they end up leading a time-crunched life like adults.
There are others who are so over-hooked to the computer monitor that they barely know what’s going on in the real world. And, then are those who are so overprotected that they hardly step out of the indoor facility. As unfortunate as it may sound, all these events have brought us closer to the demise of outdoor play.
By scheduling unstructured playtime with nature, we can give life to the dying outdoor play. Parents can always find ways to keep their kids safe while playing outdoors. It’s more about intentions than luck. If you are successful with your attempt, the end result would be a kid radiating confidence, self-belief, and good health.
Kids who play outdoors in nature automatically learn how to take appropriate risks in life. There are an infinite number of games that can be played in the open. So, kids will also get their creative juices flowing. A report published on NCBI shows how hikers on a backpacking trip could solve puzzles demanding creativity more easily than others waiting for their hiking turn.
2. Limits Screen Time
The resource center of U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website states that kids spend more than 7 hours a day in front of the screen. Whether it’s the television, computer, or the smartphone, it inhibits a child’s development. The universal truth is that no amount of screen-time rules work for our kids. Sometimes, we are at fault too. We require the television to come to our rescue for a 20-minute break so that we can have some ‘me time’ in peace.
In the end, we all end up feeling guilty. With a little bit of internal drive, all of this can change. For a moment, quit all the internal nagging, and let your kids venture outside in the park or woods to experience the fresh breeze.
Playing in the park or woods would not only keep them away from the time-wasting television screen but will also boost their overall health. One doesn’t have to go to the park every day. Kids can wrestle in the backyard, plant some trees in the garden area, ride bikes on the streets, hike in the nearby mountain, or simply go out on a walk with you.
Maybe, once in a month, you guys can plan something bigger. When kids step outside, they automatically distance themselves from television and video games. The outside view will be so much calming and beneficial for them.
3. Physical and Mental Benefits
The nature that we see on television is far different in the real world. So, the only way to experience nature to the fullest is to step out of the doors. From the singing birds, buzzing bees, the taste of wild berries, beautiful sunset to the other quieter miracles, we will have to stop and experience nature in its fresh breath in some quiet location. No electric device can replace the natural association with Mother Nature.
Direct association with nature has both mental and physical benefits. It has been proven to improve mood, reduce depression, and also reduce mental fatigue. Kids who are involved in regular outdoor play also benefit from increased flexibility and gross motor skills. More outdoor time also improves vision and reduces body inflammation.
Moreover, it can help kids with their academic life as well by improving their concentration levels. Your best bet would be to join your kids. A natural setting will spark some of the best family conversation, and provide you the opportunity to share your love for the outdoors with your kids.
4. Nature Gets the Best Out of Your Kids
In theory, playing indoors appears easy because we don’t have to worry about sun, snow, rain, strangers, etc. However, the controlled environment limits a kid’s potential. The benefits of playing in nature are almost infinite. Spending time in nature keeps the kid’s mind fresh.
Moreover, it exposes them to varying situations where they are forced to learn and adapt to best fit themselves in the prevailing conditions. For instance, playing in uneven heights, conditions, and surfaces helps them to hone their coordination and balancing skills.
At play, a kid climbs on trees or other objects which help them understand the risks involved in the process. They become better in risk assessment. Even if they sustain a minor injury, something in them grows. They also learn problem-solving skills, and they develop a deeper appreciation towards physical sports like tennis and baseball.
Moreover, kids become tougher both mentally and physically as they learn and adapt to the outside world. So, don’t be that parent who is unable to overcome his/her fear of the outdoors or else you would end up depriving your kid of the all the goodies that nature has to offer.
5. Stops the Vanishing Freedom
In today’s age and time, it’s easy for parents to dwell on thoughts of dangers and risk of outdoor play. We are not saying, adult supervision is not needed, nor are we suggesting that kids should be left alone outside long even after the streetlights came on.
However, these fears or dangers may not always add up to bad news for kids. More kids get seriously injured falling from their bed than playing outdoors. Engulfed with our personal theories and myths, aren’t we doing a great disservice to our kids by killing their freedom?
Remember, the fear of outdoors is not shaping up your kid in a manner they deserve to live their life. A normal childhood is a childhood filled with healthy outdoor risks and adventure, and we cannot deprive the same from our kids. It’s estimated that kids spend 56% more time indoors than playing outside.
Our parents would have been far from perfect, but they gave us enough freedom to connect with the nature. So, today’s house arrest concept is pretty puzzling. It’s unfortunate for nature-deprived kids because they miss out a lot of fun-filled memories that only nature can offer.
6. Social Benefits
The expensive smartphone automatically becomes boring when we take the social media app off it. The television is no better without the cable. The video games are no longer entertaining unless there is an upgrade. Let’s admit it; our kids are hooked to self-destructive habits to the extent that they don’t have a social life at all. At least, not a healthy social life!
When kids step outside, they get plenty of opportunities to interact with other playmates. In nature, they can connect with others, help each other, share their learning and solve problems together. Kids often collaborate to have the best experience. They might also find a friend to reach out to console themselves during times of need. Moreover, it helps them to act freely, while not escaping their responsibilities.
7. Promotes Smartness in Kids
It’s already proven that nature provides kids buffer from stress. In one 2015 study in California involving sixty participants showed how walking in nature can eliminate stress. Here’s the icing on the cake. It also promotes smartness in kids. While the Internet can also make us smart, it will fail to provide experimental knowledge, which is needed to be a street-smart person in life. So, there you have it. An easy solution for smartness!
Depending on the exposure, the effect may be relatively small or big. However, every bit matters for academic as well as other areas of life. We all know, happy, stress-free, and smart kids are more likely to be successful in life. The time spent in the nature offers all these benefits to your kids.
8. Improves Self Confidence in Kids
Real confidence is not about winning a video game bout. Nor, does it lie in winning a verbal combat with one’s ready-to-lose grandpa. Accidentally or not, you can fix your kid’s confidence problem to a great extent by letting him/her connect with the nature — where your kids can be face-to-face with the real world.
Nature can act as a great healing tool for kids who suffer from low self-esteem. Kids exposed to the natural world experience a greater degree of self-control, peace, and discipline. Armed with such gifts, a person’s confidence level is sure to elevate to the next level.
9. Preserving Our Nature
Our population is showing no signs of slowing down. According to the World Resources Institute, nearly 100 species die almost every day because of tropical deforestation. Further need for living space has forced us to strip our nature from forests, causing more pollution and other ecosystem-related issues. Agreed, we can’t change the past, but we can take actions for a better future. By bringing about awareness about nature, we could be saving our future generations from catastrophic events.
Since kids are going to be the major game changers, associating them with the natural world will help preserve Mother Nature. As they connect closely with the nature, they would understand what really matters in life, and they will gravitate towards being respectful of our earth.
Other Key Benefits of Connecting with Nature:
- Kids who play more in the natural world fall sick less often than those kids who restrict themselves to the indoor space. Regular exposure to the outside world boosts one’s immune system. As a result, a kid is able to combat illness better.
- According to Wikipedia, obesity has sent as much as 120,000 people to their graves prematurely. Kids who spend more time with the natural settings are less likely to be obese. The physical activities such as walking, hiking, or playing in nature can keep them active, and also help them shed extra kilos.
- Kids who spend a good amount of time outside are more prone to hone positive thoughts. It becomes second nature to them to think more optimistically in life. As a result, they benefit in all areas of life, be it academic or professional.
- Their association with nature also helps them interact with adults better. Nature by itself promotes peace and harmony. Hence, kids also learn to tame their anger to a great extent.
- Being able to solve problems on their own and the ability to take calculative risks when needed will boost their self-esteem. As a matter of fact, kids who are religiously exposed to the natural world are found to be more resilient to high-stress circumstances.
- Kids who spend most of their time in front of the monitor have no idea how to manage things when the screen is not available. Interaction with nature offers them better alternatives to make the most of their time in life. So, spending the time outdoors in nature is the best way to spend one’s day.
Of course, the nature will always exist around us. However, we are not going to live forever. The moment we popped out of our mother’s womb, our death meter started ticking. Remember, there is no guarantee that we will have a new lease on life. Moreover, there will always be remaining hours to untangle all other mess in our lives.
To top it all, kids are not going to be kids forever. So, why not make the most of the moment? Holy smokes! You are finally sold! Good job, your kids are happy too, and Mother Nature is waiting for you guys with open arms.
Originally sourced from Best for the Kids.