Getting out in nature together with your child can not only provide an opportunity for bonding, but also help you de-stress, enjoy physical activity, and get some big breaths of fresh air. Plus, it’s vitally important for you and your child to take a break from screens and inside activities to spend time (safely) interacting with the natural world - the benefits might surprise you!
You may have heard that active time spent outdoors is beneficial for children, but learning about the specific advantages that unstructured outdoor play can have for your child may still be an eye-opener!
It can be difficult to empower kids to stay focused and attentive at the best of times. Ensuring they enjoy regular creative play and exercise out-of-doors can help them burn off excess energy in a constructive way, empowering them to be more settled, calm, and focused when they return to indoor activities.
Your child may also be getting more screen time than usual. Turning the computer, tablet, or television off to spend time outdoors can offer a break for kids’ eyes and brains in favor of a different type of valuable sensory stimulation. Time spent in a different environment can also reduce screen fatigue, allowing them to then continue screen-based educational activities later.
Spending time in the natural world also positively impacts children’s learning and development. Cognitive development, motor skills, ability to concentrate, and goal setting and achievement in children are all areas which benefit from regular time spent outside. Additionally, many of the skills developed specifically through outside play can help build confidence, as well as benefit children later in life - such as physical fitness, and experienced knowledge of your region’s flora and fauna and geographic characteristics.
Nature time can provide a bolster to your child’s emotional wellbeing, too. Time spent outside, especially when coupled with physical activity, can trigger the release of endorphins, neurochemicals with mood-boosting properties. Fun activities in the natural world can help mitigate their stress responses and improve their overall concentration and coping abilities.
If your child is neurodivergent and experiences a condition that impacts their ability to focus, such as ADHD, they may find there are even more barriers to their attentiveness and executive functioning abilities. Spending quality time outdoors, even in your own backyard, can be a supportive and helpful experience for kids who are already struggling with concentration.
Life can be stressful, and our combined responsibilities can weigh on our minds, causing adrenal fatigue. Having a routine of outdoor play in combination with the soothing environment of the natural world, can provide a much-needed break from stress for both you and your child.