Raising Healthier Kids: How to Get Them to Play Outside
Many parents are dealing with how to manage the time their kids spend sitting on the couch watching TV or glued to a computer/smartphone/gaming system. Digital devices and other indoor entertainment mean kids are spending less and less time enjoying the great outdoors. Experts worry that this diminished connection with the natural world could affect not only physical fitness, but spiritual well-being. After all, spending time outside is healthy. As a result, many parents are trying to get their kids outside more. But how? Here are some ideas:
- Even a small suburban backyard can be explored (what’s under those rocks?), made more nature-friendly with some bird feeders and a birdbath, or be the setting for a family camping night.
- Give geocaching a try. This modern treasure hunt activity uses GPS coordinates to direct seekers to urban, suburban, and rural spots for small stashes of fun stuff placed by other geocachers. Engage computer-loving kids by asking them to visit one of the many online geocaching resources to choose which treasures the family should search for.
- The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) suggests baby steps for kids who are not natural outdoorsy types. Start with a daily “green hour” of unstructured play and interaction with nature. You might try a 15-minute excursion into the backyard to identify the birds you see there or a walk around the block to spot different plants and flowers.
- Even during winter, there are fun ways to get fresh air. Try sledding, skiing, ice skating, or snowboarding as a family.
- In springtime, consider starting a family vegetable garden. Even very young kids can help with weeding and watering.