Move away from that screen! Tips for encouraging outdoor play

Outdoor play: ball games
Outdoor play: ball games

Saturday mornings have got slight more complicated in the last few weeks as the youngest has started playing football. And he loves it …they are all at that age where the ball goes one way and they all run after it, it gets kicked back the way it came and they all turn around and chase it again. But who cares if its nowhere near perfect, we are getting that all important bit of outdoor play at the weekend!

Yes, it can be a struggle to get everyone up and ready but, there are some advantages to all being out on a Saturday morning …no one is watching a screen of any kind which is always a plus in my book. They are all running or jumping around releasing energy and hopefully building a habit for exercise.

The statistics tell us that childhood obesity has doubled in the last ten years and that obesity in adolescence may be linked with premature onset of Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease.
The Kaiser Family Foundation carried out some research about today’s children and their exposure to television, computers, music, mobile devices, and video games and it has shown that this media use can be up 7 ½ hours a day in children between the ages of 8 and 18.

I am quite strict on how much time I allow my kids to be in front of ‘screens’ and it can be a battle, times have changed since I was a kid and the world is a lot more technological but surely there is more to life? And still stuff to do outside?

In my other guise as a field teacher at a local country park I am amazed at how many kids don’t go outside or who are scared of being in the woods, don’t like being in a flower meadow or finding out what lives in a pond.

Outdoor play: Family walks
Outdoor play: Family walks

So here are a few top tips for getting the kids involved in outdoor play, away from screens and exercising all in one go:

  1. If you can afford it; invest in a trampoline – we had a joint Christmas present for the three children from both set of grandparents – but we have never looked back. The last few weeks they have been bouncing with conkers!
  2. Encourage them to have a go at any extra sports on offer at school – mine certainly get to have a go at things I never did – or in some cases had never heard of!
  3. Check out what your local secondary school might offer younger children; ours offers a huge range from swimming to judo
  4. Family walks – we have always taken them out. We notice behaviour is much better if they have been exercised! I do think there are some similarities between dogs and children! And although there is much complaining before we go they love it once we are out.
  5. As they get bigger, try family bike rides it doesn’t have to be far drinks and snacks can be packed up to have en-route
  6. With smaller ones, try treasure or scavenger hunts where they are looking for something or a few things. Armed with their own collecting bag, this can be a lot of fun.

There are loads of options and they don’t all have to be expensive and at the moment the National Trust has a booklet 50 things to do before you are 11 ¾.

My 10 year old has done 39 of them – admittedly Cubs and now Scouts has helped, but we have about a year to complete as many as we can.

How do you get your kids involved in outdoor play? What do you do that’s worked? Do tell us below.

This is our regular Tuesday Tips for Parenting guest post by Beckie Whitehouse from Be Confident Coaching.

Photos courtesy of Microsoft Clipart.

3 Comments

  • This post is great. In fact, we are also contributed into this bad habit. We turn on tv to make children stay calm so that we can do other things. I always try to allocate sometime in the weekend to have fun outside

  • Yes it is true. Unluckily, we are contributed in this bad habit since we often turn on the tv to make children stay cam and we can do other things. Children cannot deny fun, try to offer fun outside activity

  • Great blog! Kids need more outside time. It makes for healthier, happier children. Stop by my blog at mommyessence.com and view my post called ‘playing with peers’

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