Children today are spending less time playing outside and more time in front of screens, from smartphones to televisions. It’s no wonder that there are concerns about the impact of screen time on kids’ development— not to mention the risk that they become too sedentary.
There are many advantages to children playing outside, whether you’re talking about physical activity or socialization opportunities. If you want your kids to grow up fit and healthy, then it’s up to you to get them outside, even if they seem resistant at first. Here are eight ways to help your children make the switch from screens to fun in the sun.
Introduce Board Games
Bring back board games and other old-fashioned forms of entertainment like hopscotch and jump rope. Board games are a great way for kids to interact with each other, learn new words, and develop problem-solving skills. There’s also a fair bit of data suggesting that children who play video games may have impaired vision, so it might be worth banning these devices from your house entirely—or at least limiting screen time.
You can use duct tape, blankets, cardboard boxes, and other home materials to build forts for children. As a bonus, these structures also help kids learn about spatial relationships. The more complex your fort-building skills become, the more likely it is that your kids will find their way in and out of them on their own.
You can help them pretend to be a pirate or an explorer, or encourage them to make up stories as they go along. Anything that gets your kids outside for some time interacting with each other will encourage physical activity and imagination.
Visit Museums and Art Centers
If your kid is tired of hanging out at home all day, one of your best options might be visiting a museum or an art center. Take in a painting, visit a dinosaur exhibit or watch some interesting science experiments in action. Museums are great for cultivating creativity and curiosity—two skills that will certainly prove useful as kids grow up. It’s also a great opportunity for you and your children to learn more about each other.
Ride Bikes and Scooters
When you were a kid, you probably rode bikes or scooters for fun, but there is no reason kids today can’t do that either. The trick is to help them find ways to ride that aren’t competitive, costly, and high-pressure. Find a park with trails where they can go off-road and get exercise while having fun. Look into joining local riding groups, so they have fun riding with others their age interested in mountain biking, BMXing, or just using good old two-wheeled transport as an alternative to car travel.
The great outdoors is a source of inspiration for children of all ages. Take them on hikes, especially during the spring and summer months when flowers are blooming. Hikes provide opportunities for children to observe nature up close. Even if you live in an urban area, there’s probably a park or green space nearby where you can hike. Pack light snacks and water for hikes; save heavier meals until after you’ve returned home from your adventure.
Swimming is one of those activities that can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of age or ability. From a young age, it’s a great way for kids to learn about exercise and water safety. It also has cardiovascular benefits, especially if you’re doing laps. But what if your town doesn’t have a public pool? That doesn’t mean your kids have to sit at home all summer long. There are inflatable pools online. You can also visit ponds and lakes nearby.
Watch a Movie In Your Yard
There’s nothing quite like watching a movie outside on a warm summer night. Invite your neighbors over, order pizza, and play family-friendly flicks under twinkling stars. You can even invest in some low-cost outdoor speakers and a projector so everyone can hear that killer soundtrack.
You can even have a mini party and invite their friends. If that sounds appealing, make sure you have proper seating for everyone and their outdoor movie needs — blankets, chairs, or a blow-up mattress— ready to go. Don’t forget some pillows they can lie unto. Dress it up in comfortable outdoor cushion covers to match your decor, choose bright colors or patterns!
Put an Obstacle Course
Place an obstacle course in your backyard for kids to run through or set up a fun game of tag or hopscotch. It will get them moving, and you can create rules around whatever activity you choose. Make sure to include running, jumping, climbing, and tagging as part of these obstacles so that kids get some exercise.
With video games and TV competing for their attention, getting kids outside can be tough. However, when they play outside, children are doing much more than having fun. They’re learning and growing in ways that cannot be replicated by their technology. Learn from these tips to get them to be more active outside.