35 things to do outdoors this Summer: How many can you do?
With technology and electronic entertainment becoming more and more sophisticated children are finding new reasons to stay indoors. A recent study by the national trust found that children spend half the time playing outside that their parents did.
As parents we are keen that our children get the opportunity to be outside but there can be many barriers:
Lack of time, energy or inspiration.
It’s a battle to persuade children to get outside.
Lack of outdoor space or facilities.
Media representations of outside play as being unsafe or dangerous.
With a third of British under-fives owning their own tablets children can quickly lose the habit of getting outside. Then the battle to get them off the electronics and out of the door gets bigger.
Social media has brought many wonderful ways to connect with people we don’t see regularly but it also has its drawbacks. It is all too easy to get sucked into the idea that you’re not giving your children what they need unless you provide a series of photographable ‘experiences’.
While these often look spontaneous and spur of the moment when they are presented on Instagram, it is a lot of work to set up. In the hectic lives we lead as parents there often isn’t time to plan the perfect outdoor experience!
Getting outside does not have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t have to be photogenic. It doesn’t have to be planned. It just must be outside!
Smartkidz Summer Holiday Experiences Bingo
This summer, at Smartkidz, we have prepared a Summer bingo challenge. It is a series of fun adventures to get you and your family outside with out even having to think about it. It will also run in coordination with our summer playscheme.
To complete this fantastic challenge, you have three options:
- Complete as many activities as you can in your garden or out and about with your family.
- Come to one of our three settings and where all activities will be provided over the summer and tick of as many as you can.
- The best of both worlds: Combine time with your family with some great days with us. Tick off some of the activities at Smartkidz and some as a family.
Whatever you choose, make sure you let us know what you’re getting up to. Either comment on our blog or use our hash tag #smartkidzbingo on social media to share your pictures, quotes and comments.
What are the benefits of being outdoors?
There are many benefits to being outdoors. The fresh air, the sunlight, the peace and quiet or the sounds of birds, animals or children enjoying nature. Here are some more that might not be quite as obvious:
Exposure to risk
When we do take children outside, exposing them to risk can be nerve wracking. It’s so tempting to try and keep them calm, quiet and safe. Recent research has suggested that exposure to risk is actually critical to children’s natural development.
Supporting children as they manage risk themselves and talking them through difficult situations is a much better way to handle these situations rather than saying “come down from there”, ”stop” and “be careful”.
For some, myself included, this will take along time to undo decades of conditioning. There is no better way to support children to embrace and independently manage risk than by getting outside as a family. Trust me, climbing a tree is just as much fun for an adult as it is for a child.
ITV have recently shown a wonderful programme exploring this issue called Planet Child. It is well worth checking out.
Improves Mental health
Pressure on young children has never been greater. Statutory summative testing has put a huge pressure on schools and consequently children. Mental health conditions in children are at an all time high with professionals struggling to deal with the numbers needing treatment.
Activities outdoors such as walks, exploring, days to a farm park and forest school have been linked to significantly better mental health in both children and adults.
While getting outdoors is going to be great for your children it is also great for the whole family. Getting outside together is a commitment to spend time together.
Adventures, conversations and many activities can be shared that are often not experienced inside the home. There are nearly endless possibilities and opportunities created when you step outside as a family. The less you plan the lower the stress will be. Just get outside, grab your bingo sheet and go.
Terpenes are a naturally occurring substances produced by many plants. They often contribute to the recognisable tastes and smells that seem so unique to each plant.
They have such great smells there aren’t many scented products that don’t include a few. If you don’t believe me, check the ingredients of a shower gel or cleaning product for some of the most common terpenes: limonene, pinene and linalool.
Recent research has indicated that terpenes don’t just smell nice, they can physically alter your body chemistry making you feel relaxed and less stressed.
The presence of terpenes in natural forest smells such as that of pine trees goes a long way to explain why a walk in the woods can be so relaxing.
How to overcome the barriers
A great way to make technology such as tablets work for you is to use it as a treat that can be earnt. Reduce tablet time and allow it to be earnt in half hour, or less, chunks for help around the house or behaviour that goes above and beyond.
Use timers that can be seen and heard to keep to the agreed schedule. Timers where children can physically see the time progress are ideal, but anything where you can set a five-minute warning and a final alarm are great and can save arguments.
Tablets and technology can also be easily turned into great ways to prepare for an outdoor adventure or to record one. Use a tablet to find an exciting outdoor place to visit. Use a smart phone to film a record of your visit.
There is so much to be experienced outdoors and the full spectrum of weather is one of the highlights. Dressing appropriately for the weather can help you to really enjoy the rain and can allow children to get up close and personal with mud.
These are experiences that they will really treasure, and they require minimal or no planning. Why let the rain get you down when you can go out in it with a smile on your face?
Lack of outdoor space and facilities
If you aren’t lucky enough to have outdoor space or access to a nearby park there are many other options for you. In our three settings we offer after school clubs, breakfast clubs and holiday clubs with a full range of outdoor opportunities. Book your children in with us today.
There are also parks, gardens, nature walks and many other ways to find something to do outside. Visit this site to find the best free outdoor adventures in your area.
Lack of time
It is not only our children who are feeling the pressure, it’s us parents as well. We are pressured to be our best selves at work and at home, so where is the time to pack the car, prepare plans for the day and get everyone off to a picture-perfect day out?
It doesn’t have to be an expedition. Get to know what is going on in your local area. Where can you visit for free? What local groups set up nature trails or activity days? Local museums, libraries and children’s centres are great places to start and often set up free holiday activities, many of which are outside.
Our Summer play-scheme this year will be our best yet. There will be a full range of opportunities to get your young ones outside and using their imaginations. Each opportunity we provide we allow to develop as each child wants with as little adult intervention as possible. In this way the outcomes are so varied and personal to each child that they will come home to you worn out but with huge smiles on their faces.
Find out what’s going on this Summer:
Get your Smartkidz Summer bingo here
Get your bingo here. Please let us know what you are up to by commenting below or using our hash tag #smartkidzsummerbingo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Our favourite pics, quotes and comments will be displayed across our three settings. If you complete your bingo sheet and attend a minimum of one full day at one of our settings during the summer, please send a copy to [email protected] before September 13th 2019 to be entered into our prize draw. The prize is a Mini Den Kit with 2 den poles generously donated by Muddy Faces.