Any time of year I love to take family walks outside and getting our kids into nature. I think it’s essential for kids’ development to let kids be kids! Play outside, ride bikes and to teach them to have fun without electronics. Balance their screen time with green time.
This isn’t the easiest task, believe me… Majority of the time, I have one of the kids complaining that they don’t want to go on a family walk because they don’t want to stop doing what they are doing. That could be video games, playing with friends or playing toys but I still rally the troops’ bad moods and all.
As parents, we can’t take the easy way out and say fine, “do what you want” because that is what’s easy to do!
“If we do what’s easy now, it is not going to benefit the child or the parent in the long run.”
When we were on our walk this weekend, I was thinking to myself…
Why is getting the kids outside and in nature so important to me?
Here’s what came to mind:
- I want my kids growing up and appreciating Nature and what it looks like different times of the year.
- I notice their curiosity and imaginations just blossom when we are outside!
- They don’t fight and argue hardly at all, like they do when we are inside, ha.
- I want them to remember the fun they can have just playing with dirt, rocks, sticks, water, leaves etc.
- I know how much getting outside and going for a walk benefits me mentally and I want the same for my kids.
Ideas for getting outside
Now I know everyone doesn’t live where there’s trails, nature centers or hiking spots but every city does have parks. You can drive to a nice park in your area, take the kids’ scooters, pack a few snacks or visit a nearby lake and play on the shore.
This doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, it doesn’t have to be elaborate either, just dress appropriately for the weather, yes-even when it’s cold out and just get outside!
My Favorite app for finding trails.
An app that I’ve been using and it’s free, is called All Trails. It uses your location or you can type in a city and it will tell you about trails or walking paths in your area. It uses g.p.s. and it will show you where you are on the trail, how long the trail is, difficulty level and what’s allowed on the trail (bikes, dogs, etc.), it’s a great app and I love it!
When I take the kids out and we are exploring, I ask the kids questions or point things out to them that they might not be noticing, to enhance their curiosity and awareness.
What to talk about while in nature
- What does it sound like when we step on all the leaves?
- Look over there, do you see that!?!
- I wonder what’s over here?
- Look how the water is running faster here, but not over there…? (And explain to them why)
- Do you want to throw rocks in the creek?
- Let’s send leaves down the creek and see who’s leaf wins!
- Close your eyes, what do you hear?
- Wow, look at the colors of the leaves?
All these types of questions or statements get their minds turning and encourages them to think. If you don’t have the answer to their questions, ask Googles!
They will remember this type of stuff, I promise.
Benefits of getting kids in Nature
When I was doing research on this topic I came across a really great article by the National Wildlife Federation that explains the benefits of kids being in nature! Let me share some of what they said below.
- Outdoor play increases fitness levels and builds active, healthy bodies, an important strategy in helping the one in three American kids who are obese get fit.
- Spending time outside raises levels of vitamin D, helping protect children from future bone problems, heart disease, diabetes, and other health issues.
- Being outside improves distance vision and lowers the chance of nearsightedness.
- Outdoor time improves sleep
- Exposure to natural settings may be widely effective in reducing ADHD symptoms.
- Schools with environmental education programs score higher on standardized tests in math, reading, writing, and listening.
- Exposure to environment-based education significantly increases student performance on tests of their critical thinking skills.
- Children’s stress levels fall within minutes of seeing green spaces.
- Play protects children’s emotional development, whereas loss of free time and a hurried lifestyle can contribute to anxiety and depression.
- Nature makes children nicer, enhancing social interactions, value for the community, and close relationships.
credit- the N.W.F. article
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Now that our kids are being raised in the digital age we have to be mindful about how much screen time they are having! I know I am guilty of looking at my phone too much and my kids having too much screen time, especially in the winter. It’s a work in progress.
My hope is to encourage and inspire you to take your kids outside as much as you can and to teach them to appreciate nature. Nature doesn’t only benefit kids, it benefits adults too. Remember this doesn’t have to be elaborate or cost anything. Make it simple like going to your local park or driving to another city that has walking trails.
Helpful Tip, If you have little ones, make sure to bring snacks and water!
Enjoy the outdoors!
What is your favorite thing to do outside with your kids?