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Guest post- Daddilife- Why embracing the outdoors is vital for a child’s development

February 10, 2018Jenny

A great guest-post here by Daddilife, a parenting website for dads. Articles from Daddilife have been featured by a range of high-profile outlets, including the Huffington Post. Here, Han-son has written about the importance of getting children outdoors for their development, and the role Dads can play in these kind of activities: 

These days children spend far less time on average playing outside than their parents did, and nine out of ten parents say that they’d like their children to connect more with nature. It’s more important than ever that families understand the importance of embracing the outdoors with the wide range of things that so often seem to keep us busy inside our homes.

What’s stopping us being outdoors as a family more?

Children these days seem to spend more time than ever indoors, and the tech savvy future generation may be learning useful skills on their iPads and tablets, but their time with tech dominates their day. In fact children now spend an average of six and a half hours a day in front of a screen. Numerous studies highlight the impact that this can have on their health and development and furthermore shows how crucial it is that children regularly experience playing outdoors. It’s ironic in a way that much of our parental focus seems to be spent on their E-Safety, rather than their outdoor development.

The value of being outdoors for our children’s development

It’s important that children develop strong and healthy relationships from a young age as it helps them acquire interpersonal skills, making them sociable, proficient communicators. This isn’t just key to general happiness, but can make a big difference within the family home by helping your child to become more effective and comfortable at communicating how they feel.

 

Outdoor play occupies a very different space to the family home — you’ll immediately notice the differences in how a child communicates when they’re outside — so it’s of paramount importance to broadening their relationship skills.

Another valuable benefit of playing with a child outside is that it gives them the space to move about and interact with their environment. This has a range of benefits in the development of their gross and fine motor skills, movements performed when the child’s brain, nervous system, and muscles work in tangent. Fine motor skills involve motions that are smaller, like when a child picks up an object that is small or holds a fork, that utilises muscles in the fingers, wrists, toes, lips, and tongue. Gross motor skills on the other hand are big movements such as rolling or sitting, and use the larger muscles that are in the arms, torso, legs, and feet.

Some experts say that the next generation are set to be far more in tune with the world around them; the children of today are touted as being potentially more empathetic and environmentally conscious, which are qualities that can be encouraged through regular interactions with nature and wildlife. Getting children outdoors and enabling them to be interested in what’s around them can do a lot of good for their perspective on things as they grow. Most pertinently, this will have a direct impact on nature but also translates well to the wider world and can help a child become more empathetic, patient, and thoughtful.

The different ways that dads can encourage outdoor play

There are a range of things that dads can do to get their child interested in the outdoors and all it needs is a bit of creativity and imagination along with some willpower and enthusiasm.

 

  • A kite is an age-old outdoors toy that all children are bound to love, while a Tuff Tray is a big mixing tray that occupies children in homes and schools alike for hours.

 

  • Parents can go back to basics and simply take the children out for a bike ride.

 

  • Alternatively, starting a vegetable garden can be a fantastic way to introduce a child to the wonders of nature, and nothing can match the awe that they’ll feel when eating their first harvest.

 

It’s vital that parents encourage their children to explore and play outside as much as possible, as it can be the key to making them healthier, happier, and more well-rounded. How will you embrace outdoors with the kids today?

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