With the school holidays upon us, the battles between kids and parents over technology are bound to arise. Doctors say that the best thing for kids to do is to spend time away from technology and use their imagination.
Here’s what you should know about getting your kids outside these school holidays.
Why is it better for them?
Getting outside into nature has many benefits for growing children. Some of these include:
- Building confidence. The way kids play in nature is highly unstructured, creating an infinite way of interacting with the outdoor environment. Whether it’s in the backyard, a park or local hiking train or lake, by letting your child choose how they treat nature means they have the power to control their own actions and build their confidence.
- It promotes creativity and imagination. The unstructured style of play outdoors allows kids to interact meaningfully with their surroundings. They can think more freely, design their own activities, and approach the world in inventive ways. All of which can be inhibited by the over use of technology.
- It teaches responsibility. Living things die if mistreated or not taken care of properly. By entrusting a child to take care of the living parts of an environment means they learn the consequences of not watering a plant or pulling out a flower by its roots. Kids also learn how to take care of themselves when playing outside, they make their own decisions and become more independent.
- It provides a different type of stimulation. Nature may seem less stimulating than a video game, but in reality, it activates more senses. Kids can see, hear, smell and touch outdoor environments. Richard Louv, psychological author and journalist, warns “as the young spend less and less of their lives in natural surroundings, their senses narrow, and this reduces the richness of human experience.”
- It gets kids moving. Getting involved with nature tends to include more exercise that just sitting on the couch. It’s not about joining the local football team or riding a bike for hours on end. Even just getting up and about gets their blood pumping. Not only is the exercise good for their health, it also makes them more focused, which is especially beneficial for kids with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
- It makes them think. Louv says nature creates a unique sense of wonder for kids that other environments cannot provide.
- It reduces stress and fatigue. Urban environments require what’s called directed attention, which forces us to ignore distractions and exhausts our brains. In natural environments, we practice an effortless type of attention known as soft fascination which creates feelings of pleasure rather than fatigue.
What can my kids do?
Instead of relying on technology to entertain your kids, here are some fun things to do outside these holidays.
- DIY Stamp Kit
Letting your kids experiment with rocks, twigs, bottle caps and other bits and bobs destined for the recycling bin can make some interesting patterns when dipped in ink. It’s bound to entertain your kids for hours on end.
- Pretty Prints
Another classic idea that you probably did growing up is to take leaves from the garden or park and use them to make shapes and patterns on paper. It’s easy to do, you just secure the leaves on the paper with some double-sided tape and then get your littlie to paint over the entire paper so that when the leaves are removed, they leave a ‘negative imprint’ of the leaves.
- Get Gardening
With Spring now here, the weather is perfect for starting a veggie patch or flower patch with your kids. It’s a fun family project and bound to entertain you and your kids for hours.
- Pressing Flowers
Try introducing your kids to the magic of flower pressing. Let them pick some of their favourite specimens, then simply put them in the middle of a phone book and place it somewhere safe, ideally weighed down by more books or heavy items. Check back in a week or so for your child’s creation, a beautifully pressed and ready to be used flower. Perfect for adding onto cards, artworks or other nifty ideas.
- Paper play.
If there is one thing in your recycling bin it’s probably loose paper and cardboard. Luckily, it happens to be the basis for a tonne of fantastic crafts for kids. Use some newspapers to make Papier-Mâché balloons or even paper planes. Or even use cardboard to make houses for your kid’s toys.