Are you having trouble encouraging your kids to go out of the house? Do they simply want to play video games in their rooms? Do they want to speak with their friends over Messenger or Zoom? It can be daunting to convince them that outside play is good for them since kids, unlike us before, today have never been as argumentative and set on their ways than any other generation.
But if you let them have their ways, they will never learn about how great it is to feel the warmth of the sun or get their hands and feet dirty playing in the sand. It’s one way to let them be tech-savvy individuals as befit their generation, but it’s another to play into their hands. You have to do your part in encouraging the kids to spend as much time playing outdoors as they do indoors because this is good for their physical, emotional, and mental health.
Introduce Them to Nature
One of the best ways to start encouraging your kids to spend time outdoors is to introduce them to the wonders of nature. Talk to them about how plants grow and their roles in the ecosystem. Talk to them about proper tree care, or how the old tree in your backyard has been there since you were little. Kids of all ages love stories. They love knowledge. Introducing them to the concept of nature will open their eyes to the wonderful world of outdoor play.
Create Backyard Rooms
If you have a large yard (or even a small one), you can divide it into “rooms.” This will allow your kids to explore according to their heart’s desire. If some of them want to play with the sand, then a sandbox in one corner is a good idea. Older kids might want a playground with a swing, seesaw, and slide. A monkey bar is a nice touch, too. Some great “backyard room” ideas are an old tent, a canopy, a playhouse, a sandbox, and a teepee.
Let Them Be the Creatives That They Are
Color and paint activities are not something you should do inside the house. It will be more stimulating for the kids to do their paintings outside when they are surrounded by nature. They will get more ideas about what to paint and draw. Art activities are also great outdoors because they can be quite messy. This eliminates the need for you to fix the mess your kids created after painting, coloring, and drawing. Make sure there’s a space for your kids to do their art activities.
Build Pockets of Sensory Experience
Sand play is a good idea to let your kids build shapes, castles, animals, and others. But another sensory experience they’ll surely love is the one with water. You can get an inflatable pool, so they can “swim,” or fill it up with water balloons and let the kids run around the yard to throw the balloons at each other. You might also ask them to water the plants. This is a good way to incorporate the environment into their playtime.
Make Them Play with Chalk
Do you remember how much you love writing with chalk back in the days? Sidewalk chalk is a childhood staple. You can still see some families drawing random things on the sidewalk or their driveway. Games such as tic-tac-toe and hopscotch are made more fun by drawing them yourself. You can create a do-it-yourself chalkboard for the kids. Nail it on the fence and allow their imagination to flourish.
Attract Birds and Butterflies
How can you do that? Planting native flowers, shrubs, and trees will surely attract butterflies and even bees. For the birds, build a bird box and make sure there’s food for them there. You’ll be surprised that some birds will start seeing your garden as their home. Kids love butterflies and birds. They love anything that flies (sometimes, even insects). Ask your kids to help “take care” of your visitors. Let them paint the bird box and put food in the feeder.
Your kids will never run out of things to do around the yard if you prepare it enough for their enjoyment. Whether it’s an art activity, a water play, or a sensory experience, you will open your kids’ world with outdoor play. Remember that there are still more things they can learn by playing outdoors, stimulating their imagination, and mingling with kids of their own ages than spending all their time on the internet where, although they might be the next Steve Jobs, they’re also susceptible to fall victims of crimes, syndicates, and misinformation.