One of the reasons that families have been moving during the pandemic is to get enough yard space according to SpaceWise. Most often, this means moving from highly dense urban areas to the suburbs. Prices are cheaper outside cities. Hence, bigger spaces become more affordable. Also, there is not enough space available in many cities.
With a yard, families can have trees that provide shade and opportunities for climbing. Regular tree care and pruning will ensure that the trees remain safe, with no weak branches that may fall on children or break when they climb. A lawn can provide space for physical activities.
Children and Outdoor Activities
Having ample outdoor space within the residential property enables families to provide children with enough room to breathe fresh air and play. Studies show that these are necessities for physical and mental health.
A study published in the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed page in April 2021 shows that the pandemic is restricting many children’s access to outdoor spaces, thereby limiting their physical activities. Children from low-income families have even less access than others.
A study published in ScienceDirect in May 2021 recommends launching a national campaign during the pandemic to publicize the need for families and children to meet the World Health Organization’s (WHO) standard of 60 minutes of daily moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) for overall fitness. This can be divided into shorter periods of 10 to 15 minutes distributed throughout the day.
The study urges parents and siblings to act as role models and participate in physical activities together with children. Among the outdoor activities mentioned were free play, sports, cycling, running, and even walking. Physical activities must also include stretching and exercises for balance and posture. Strength training must be included, too. The study highlighted the importance of including physical activity in the regular routine of children, along with sufficient sleep.
According to Parenting Science, children become twice more active outdoors. Also, for every 10 minutes of added outdoor time, they get nearly three minutes more of MVPA. The outdoors gives children more space to move in. It develops their athletic skills as it encourages them to jump around farther, run faster, and climb up anything higher. They, therefore, encounter more chances to face and overcome any fears.
Children are also given various chances to learn about physical concepts and forces hands-on when outdoors, and parents can supply the corresponding words and explanations. Research shows that children more readily learn new words related to physical experiences, things they can do, and objects and textures they can touch. There are many of these outdoors that are not accessible indoors. For instance, they can feel the coolness of the rain and the sun’s warmth as natural occurrences.
Exposure to sunlight ensures that children develop adequate levels of vitamin D. This is needed for forming brain synapses, muscle function, bone growth, and puberty. Sun exposure also regulates their natural sleeping and waking patterns.
Children and Nature
The New York Times and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) state that various research points to the beneficial effects of nature on the well-being of children. With their lives and normal routines upended by the pandemic, they need as much support as possible.
Psychologist Rebecca Hershberg, Ph.D., specializing in children’s social-emotional development, states that parents must prioritize giving children unstructured time and exercise amid nature. This will enhance their mood, behavior, and mental health.
Just looking at nature regulates children’s heart rate, lowers their stress, and decreases risks of depression. Having greenery in the play yards of schools reduces anger and aggression in children and improves impulse control. It helps them behave better socially and enables them to be helpful, cooperative, and generous. They comfort others. On the other hand, school play yards with no greenery bring out more negativity in children.
Research shows that greenery strengthens children’s immune systems. It also minimizes the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Author Richard Louv wrote a book about what he called a nature-deficit disorder, emphasizing that humans have a profound need to connect with nature. He states that when children have less time amid nature, their senses are narrowed physically and psychologically.
On the other hand, children who have more time immersed in nature develop curiosity and critical thinking. They become more focused, engaged in learning, and creative. Learning outcomes are much improved.
Home Yard Paradise
The front or back yard of the home can be a paradise of nature for children during the pandemic. Parents must ensure that as much greenery as possible is grown there.
Apart from being a form of physical activity, tending to plants is also an enriching activity. Children learn how fulfilling it is to plant something and nurture it to grow. If they plant vegetables or fruits, they gain the additional experience of partaking in the products of their labor. This also encourages healthy eating. With their own little patch of green at home, children can continue to thrive amid the pandemic.