In today’s world, children are playing indoors a heck of a lot more than they are outdoors. What are these kids doing? I am sure most of you have experienced a three year old who can navigate themselves through the computer better than some adults. How about those computer games? I know some children as young as two years who can beat adults at some of these games. Then there is the TV, well I can say there are some educational programs, but we must be curious about this. Does TV really have a long lasting affect on our children, good or bad?
To get children outdoors, a popular thing to do these days are playgroups. I find mine on Meetup.com. In addition to these playgroups, they are playing organized sports. Have you noticed in your family’s lifestyle or other families that today’s kids have such a tight schedule at an early age that they are being shuffled from this playgroup to the next, and then shuffled to their organized sports team as early as the age of three years! Life is so full and “busy” that the kids are so called “calmed down” with a movie, TV show or video game, not only at home but on the road with iPads or cell phones. Wow, just writing it is making me exhausted.
Have you ever thought to yourself, “enough is enough and I just want to relax!” Here is the thing, your child is being robbed of their own identity, being robbed of a sense of independence and self, and most of all, being robbed of real socialization and learning. Take it from me, I had to learn that the hard way. We all do our very best to raise our children as best we know how and help our children be the best they can be.
There is another way. Let’s stop pushing our children so hard, they really need time to explore to find out who they are in this world. We found the best remedy, outdoor play. Allow them to get in the dirt and mud and let’s cease on nagging them not to get dirty. If it is raining, hey, that is the most opportune time to send them outside for play. Stay out of their way parents! Allow them discover for themselves, it is vital for their health and stability. They have only been on this planet for a short amount of time.
You are probably saying to yourself, this is all good and fine and my children are extraordinary, head of the class at age 5 and the sports star at age 6 and at age of 2 and 3 my child knows how to spell and add and nearly read! Great! And here are some of the things that happen without a child stopping and relaxing and enjoying their natural outdoor environment. Lose sense of self, social skills are not present, they have violent tendencies or aggressive, they have no access to creativity which helps brain function and health, physically they are not strong and dark circles appear under their eyes, hard going time sleep, loss of motivation and the list goes on. No kidding.
There is something about being outdoors, exploring, climbing, digging, playing in the mud and collecting sticks and other cool things, touching bugs and all the sorts that really has a bearing. This gives the child a sensation of touch, which brings them into self and the present where they know their place. It is a feeling of stability and owning their domain. There is something to be said by molding a mug pie, which connects to their brain in a way that creativity and learning is enhanced. Sitting and watching a computer screen, even educational, does nothing of the sort. With outdoor play, the child understands what the natural environment feels like and is able to see the beauty of it then take it in on an intellectual level. Ever see your child outside observing that worm or the little ants walking on the sidewalk? Observation keeps them focused and grounded by learning in this environment without the toxic frequencies hitting them as the electronics do (Television, Cell Phone, iPads, tablets, computers). The large benefit of outdoor play is that it clears their mind of the clutter our world puts in with advertisements, movies, plastic toys, etc. Being outdoors in nature, there is no one to impress and nowhere to get to. It is about living in the moment and a huge opportunity for creative play and curiosity.
Learning is not only with your head but physical too? Have you ever thought about that? Growing up, the only time I actually got good grades if I was interested in the subject, where I got to experience it in real life or witness for myself. Homework and group projects assisting me in my learning as I went to public school. Why settle for just classroom learning, let’s give your child a boost with outdoor play. Children can pick up things quickly, academically and socially. Without this kind of play, it comes to a point that they are just now memorizing. There were many people who we have talked to that insist that being raised playing outdoors, it is easier for them to learn in school. Why is this? Just by being outside and touching trees, digging and finding bugs under rocks and amongst trees, children learn easier. You may say, “my child is doing extraordinary in his/her learning in pre-school and or kindergarten.” Let’s not dismiss your child’s unique abilities and the learning they do with you and in school at a young age.
Here is something for all parents to think about.
When it is the child’s free will, through outdoor learning and play, they tend to learn and master their education. Need some more evidence? The Tots Cafe has interviewed Jodi Levine, Founder of Earthroots, which is an outdoor education and learning for children. These kids are outdoors all day long in the woods or the beaches. They get to play in mud/sand and with sticks and in streams and observe tide pools. They are being educated about their natural environment and the instructors are giving them the gift of song, play and story. It is a kind respectful education where there is no need for discipline, just guidance.
You may be wondering, that sounds nice but what are the differences between these nature children to the children who mostly play indoors? This I invite you to ask yourself. There are many stories of parents and children a like that nature playing has made tremendous impact.
Personal Story. My 4-year old son and I experienced Earthroots Forest Kindergarten class. Before we took the class, we were having difficulty with going to bed early (7:30am), as he was consistently going to bed at 9-10pm and getting up at 8-9am, which affected him in many ways than one. Brings us to our experience at Earthroots. How it works is one parent or guardian must be present at all times. This was new to me being a city slicker and all.
The day consisted of children socializing, the parents socializing too, the kids playing wherever they felt the need and the parents socializing, the kids and parents together singing in a circle, snack time with organic foods for all of us and eating on our blankets, more signing, kids activities which were outdoor running games and a bit of hiking. Followed by an activity and then the best part was quite time. Quite time was to give us a rest and to allow nature a chance to come in and be with us. That was so needed. The day was so exhausting for me and all I really did is sit on a blanket, eat outdoors, do a small hike and went exploring with my son as we collected some amazing looking sticks. Okay, that says something about me, but what about my son? The next day and the day after that and so on, he has now been consistent on sleep, falling asleep no later than 8:00pm. Huge improvement! Sleep has now been regular, his actions are now calm instead of tantrums or outbursts, and he seems to be a lot gentler. There is nothing like the experience of outdoor play and learning.
Stories may inspire you, but if you like to really see results with you and your children, experience the outdoors is the way to go.
There is so much evidence out there toward the benefit of outdoor play, we as parents need to know this and give every possible thing to our children so they grow up healthy, abundant and secure adults. Playing outdoors is one of the most important activities. Give them this opportunity of playing out in nature.
Written by Tina Hiatt, Director of Holistic Health & Fitness. http://www.HolisticHealthFitness.net