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Thursday, February 23, 2012

How to Get Kids Outside to Play

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This is another in the series about Kids and Play - You can read more here and here and here 
Kids desperately need play but they also need time to play outside. Studies have shown that kids who play outside have fewer behavioral problems. Organized sports are good but I am talking about REAL Play, where kids run around and create for themselves.
  1. Encourage outdoor adventures: Reserve time for outdoor play where children can run, climb, find secret hiding places and dream up dramas. Natural materials – sticks, mud, water, rocks – are the raw materials of play..
  2. Bring back the art of real work: Believe it or not, adult activity – cooking, raking, cleaning, washing the car – actually inspires children to play. Children like to help for short periods, then break off and play
  3. Let kids help in the garden and yard, even if they do use Tonka trucks to move the weeds.
  4. Go for a hike with your kids – we are blessed to have 5 acres to romp and explore on but frankly if I do go with them they always stay right around the house.  But if you don’t have woods or trails near by you just get them out in the neighborhood for a walk
  5. Buy some sidewalk chalk – I can’t tell you how much this $5 investment pays off every year. As soon as it is warm enough my kids are outside there drawing roads to drive on, Hop scotch courses and creating art work.  (if you are wondering I buy the biggest bucket of chalk I can get and dole out colors 3 at a time.)
  6. Let kids get dirty, kids need to know that it is okay to get dirty when they are playing. Raise your hand if you had school clothes, and play clothes growing up. I know I did, and my kids do too. When kids know they can play outside and not worry about getting dirty they are more free to play.
  7. Make your backyard child friendly, have a place that kids can play, remember kids like to dig, so you might want to have a sandbox for them to play in, or else they end up in your garden.
  8. Take advantage of local natural areas, go to the lake, the state park or even the botanical garden. One of my kids favorite places to go and play are the gardens or our local Art Museums. Yes my kids play at Art Museums.
  9. Take some of your inside activities outside, let kids paint outside or even just read. Remember they are OUTSIDE
  10. Encourage all sorts of play outside. All outside play is equal, whether it is social play, team sports, creative play, or just running around like an airplane play, or having a contest to see who can jump the jump up the furthest from a park bench.  (yes, they did  in skirts on Mother’s Day) 

this post is linked up to Green and Natural MamasSeasonal Celebrations @ Natural Mothers Network


Becca said...

Great article! I have to add: Give them some chance to roam. Exactly what is safe at what age depends on the individual child and the hazards of the area, but many parents these days won't let their kids out of their sight outdoors, and that diminishes outdoor play opportunities to times when parents can be there and places parents are willing to go. Letting kids play out of your sight for gradually increasing times and distances helps them to learn skills they'll need to become independent and self-protective adults.

Lisa - the Granola Catholic said...

Becca, great idea! I remember roaming up to a mile or more from home when we were kids, going off into the woods for hours. sometimes even alone. No one worried, and the one time a neighborhood kid was "lost" the State Police sent the other kids into the woods to look for him, because we kids knew the area best. No cell phones either. Just kids and our dogs. Of course we always came home when the fire station blew its whistle or the church played its bells or the street lights came on if we could see them from where we were.

Natural Mothers Network said...

Thanks Lisa for sharing this post with us on Natural Mothers Network's Seasonal Celebration-x

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