Children in the UK are currently suffering because they are losing the opportunity to play outdoors. This trend has been blamed on overly anxious parents and the explosion in sedentary activities such as playing computer games and watching TV.
But what can a parent do to encourage their kids to break away from their addictive computer games and go outdoors to play?
I recently posted this query to the forum at Parents Centre and the lovely people there came back with some really useful points and suggestions:
- Provide a safe outdoor environment for them to play in. This may be a garden, but could also be a nearby green space, a park or some common land.
- Go Cycling. Good for all the family. And when the kids are old enough and experienced enough they can go off without the parents in tow.
- A Trampoline. Providing the kids with some inspiring outdoor play equipment can be a very powerful incentive to get out and use it.
- Climbing Frames. Along with treehouses, rope swings and ladders, climbing framesand other forms of outdoor play equipment are great fun. They enable youngsters to develop their physical confidence and encourage all sorts of creative, imaginative play.
- Turn off the TV. Might be a bit tricky but restricting the amount of time spent in front of the TV and playing computer games is clearly a good idea.
- Set a Good Example. It’s no good expecting the kids to go out and be active when we (parents) carry on staring at the ‘idiot box’. Set a good example by going cycling, walking, camping, playing outdoor games etc.
- Be Creative. Outdoor play does not require the purchase of expensive outdoor play equipment. Simple is often better. Skipping ropes, bats and balls are far less expensive and can provide all the inspiration necessary. In fact kids will turn almost any piece of junk into a prop for imaginative play.
Parents don’t really need to be spending large amounts of cash on expensive outdoor toys and props. What they do need to do is facilitate safe outdoor play, keep supervision and observation to a minimum and let the kids do the rest.