According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, children spend about 3 hours a day glued to an electronic device, and during the weekend, this number jumps to about 4.3 hours a day. These shocking numbers are well above the Australian government’s recommended limit of two hours of screen time a day, and has increased rates of child obesity, diminished children’s attention spans, and led to many health problems such as heart disease. Spending so much time indoors, hooked to a screen, also stunts children's learning and prevents them from key lessons provided when they play outdoors. So, instead of turning on the TV or handing your children a tablet, it’s time to take our children outside so that they can learn and play in nature.
Why Kids Should Spend Time in Nature
Kids are spending so much time indoors that scientists have created a name for it: Nature Deficit Disorder. Although not a real disease, this disorder prevents children from obtaining many of the benefits of playing outdoors. Being outdoors expands children’s creativity. Nature creates an unstructured type of play that allows children to meaningfully interact with their surroundings and freely design their own activities. Nature also teaches children how to behave responsibly, reduces the stress in their life, and gets them moving and physically active.
Invite Wildlife to Your Home for a Wild Adventure
Being outside doesn’t mean that your child has to be out at the park, or on a hiking trip. You can make your own backyard a wonderful outdoor adventure that is simply waiting to be explored. A great way to allow your children to have a new experience every day is to bring animals into their world. You can invite birds to your garden by adding a water fountain or working with your child to build a bird home. You and your child can also invite butterflies into your little sanctuary by planting different coloured plants and flowers. The butterfly will pollinate the flowers and start the life cycle of other wildlife. Every day could be a new adventure with different animals coming into your child’s play area. They can learn all about the animals that come into their play area, and even make a new friend or two.
Build Your Child’s Outdoor Sanctuary
Other than animals, children simply want to explore and have fun with their environment. Therefore, you can add elements of an adventure into your backyard by building different types of playgrounds. The most common way is for you and your child to build a treehouse together. Building the treehouse creates days of fun, and it allows your child to have his own sanctuary outdoors. You can also add on to the treehouse and use objects around your kitchen to make a musical fence, or attach a swing to the base of the tree. Children will not only learn how to build a home, but they will also learn how to survive in the great outdoors and how nature can give them exactly what they need. When you make a sanctuary outdoors, your child will also run to nature to solve his or her problems rather than pick up an iPad, laptop, or TV remote.
Encouraging your child to play outdoors starts with your environment. If you create a fun and adventurous play area, they won’t ever want to come inside.