Updated: Apr 3
I know we are in lock down but go outside you silly human. We are much luckier than city folk. Poor New Yorkers. My cousin in NYC tells me that she can't bear to look at her apartment anymore and the only place they can walk is on pavement. Here in Merced, we have backyards and huge parks with vast space that we can easily distance ourselves from others. We can and must for the sake of our children and our sanity see the outdoors. No excuses!
Benefits of getting your kids (and you) outdoors:
Expansion of Energy- imagine the amount of energy being built up and stored in those itty bitty kid muscles coupled with the constant feedings (OMG they eat so much). Now imagine the release when they get outside. If you are not the outdoorsy type that’s fine- go for a walk, sit in the sun, jump in a puddle whatever floats your boat but do it outside.
Handling Stress and Focusing- Very important for this time period. Experts are unsure why but nature has restorative attributions and often can help calm (I believe it's the increased O2 and the beauty). Research shows that time outdoors can reduce the amount of hyperactivity and attention deficit.
Develop Curiosity and Desire to Learn- Playing outdoors in nature is one of the most intriguing environments for learning. There is constant stimulation and the senses become heightened (differently from screens). The natural loose parts outdoors can create a space that is uniquely different from the fast paced, knowledge at our fingertips world we live in today. There are endless ways to manipulate the materials in the outdoor world which often leads to intrigue. Through outdoor free play one can develop critical thinking, problem solving, exploration of the elements, assessing and taking risks, innovation, social abilities, internal motivation and that's just to name a few benefits.
Resilience and Executive Functioning Skills- What better place than nature is there to test your abilities and overcome hardships with its ever changing seasons and elements. Resilience is based on the understanding that one will persevere through difficulties and cope with failures. One’s passion will convince them to overcome and be driven to reach their goals. Three primary dimensions of executive function are widely understood to be working memory, self-control, and mental flexibility.
“Access to nature has meaningful, positive impacts on cognitive function, and nature-based activities that afford the opportunity for active, free play are particularly beneficial.” (Louv, Robert)
Confidence and the ability to assess risk- “As everyone who has a child or once was one knows, children love to play in risky ways—ways that combine the joy of freedom with just the right measure of fear to produce the exhilarating blend known as thrill.” (Peter Gray). Additionally, after kids spend time in the outdoors playing freely they are often more confident and try to take on more leadership roles. Healthy risk taking and having the opportunity to practice your strengths while becoming aware of your weaknesses is linked to qualities seen in entrepreneurs. However, a lack of these opportunities can be detrimental to a child’s life resulting in lack of confidence, feel more anxious and depressed and feel as though they have less control over their lives.
Make sure to take a look at Linda McGurk's book “ There is no such thing as bad weather” or her blog Rain or Shine Mama
To find out what we did on day 8, click here!