Excellent article. I have a teenager that recently has decided that he is to busy to go outside after school. I know that high school keeps him busy, but I would love for him to get out more. Will offer some of these things.
My Mom's favorite idea was to just turn the AC off! Said she didn't want to have all 6 kids AND all their friends in the house all day. We spent our time outdoors playing kickball, catching garden snakes in the field (don't ask why), racing our bikes, and only came in when Batman was on, then went right back out again!
2/8/2013 7:30:12 PM
For those who left comments about how horrible it is to have to give your child things to do outside, please remember that not all kids enjoy going outdoors, even if they don't live in a tech filled house. I grew up on a farm and loved spending time outside doing anything and everything. However, my sister would much rather just stay inside, read, and listen to music, even with all the fun that awaited outside. When I was young I just couldn't understand. Now I do. We are all human which means we are all different. We enjoy different things. My husband and I farm, and our young son loves going outside just like my husband and me. However our daughter is perfectly happy to play quietly in her room by herself. It's a challenge for us to get her outside. Please be respectful of us parents who are trying to encourage our kids to enjoy the outdoors, even though its not their cup of tea.
if you start your outdoor routine while very young - children know and look forward to it. it is when we as adults start to crinch - the kids pick up on that. also-- turning off all the tech stuff - or not allowing it until they are 12 or more.
Besides the bird feeder by a window, I have seen some bird houses that have suction cups so they are on the window. The back of the bird house is plexiglas so the children can watch the birds build nest, see the eggs, and then watch the little ones grow.
When my kids were younger we would sometimes set up an old tent for them to play in. They would take old blankets and pillows out to use in it and would go out there to read. If the weather was going to be nice we would let them spend the night in it... though they would usually be back in the house by 11pm because they could hear the coyotes. lol The coyotes never come into our yard, but are in a field behind us.
I take my daughter to a local park that has a 1.8 mile loop. We walk that 3 times a week, and I bring a new scavenger hunt list with me every time, if we can find all the items we get to do something of her choice. The rest of the time when the weather is nice we go to a splash pad, or a huge play park nearby, and stay there for at least an hour. I read my book, and she plays with the kids that are there, it's a great break for both of us. But we live in Iowa, so the weather can be yucky during some of the year, so we have a rule when we can't go outside we have to get up and do jumping jacks, march in place, whatever during commercials. Plus we have a WII and I got the game Just Dance 2, it is some good physical activity when you can't get outside. I think if you become fitness and fun minded you can always find a way to be more active.
5/25/2012 2:15:52 PM
A lot of good ideas. Thanks for posting this. Chris Kelley - Framingham
3/31/2012 8:20:50 PM
My 3 year old begs me to go play outside or go to the mountain we live nearby (:
I agree that kids need play time and outdoor time, but I think this article has fallen into the same pattern it deplores. You seem to be attempting to structure their "child centered play" way too much, thinking that they won't learn from it if they aren't "led to discovery" (I hate that phrase).
I grew up on a farm in the 50's, with no TV, and the internet et al did not exist until I was well into adulthood. We walked or raced down to the railroad tracks, and created a "play house" our of some bushes and our imaginations. We climbed into the haymow of the barn and created forts where we became Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. We climbed up on the roof of the chicken house, and pretended we were fishing off of it, complete with imaginary poles and imaginary fish. We played hide and seek all over 300 acres. I remember hiding from my parents and grandparents up the apple tree or up the windmill (not like the modern ones, which don't look like they could be climbed), and taking a couple ears of corn with me so I could throw kernels down to the chickens and watch them run like crazy to get their treat. We rode our bikes several miles on dirt and gravel roads to visit our friends (the nearest neighbor was at least 1/2 mile away).
Never once did it occur to any adult in my life that we needed "direction" to have fun, and a complaint of being bored just got us a chore to do--so we found ways to not be bored.
In other words, back off, and let the kids find their own fun. Give their imaginations a chance to run, and their minds and bodies will follow.
3/31/2012 11:25:17 AM
What ever happened to saying "no" to your kids. I have 2 kids age 4 and 5. I also watch my niece and nephew at time who are 10 and 12. No, they are not allowed to watch tv the whole time they are here nor are they allowed to play video games. This is the same rules they have at their own home. I kick my kids out, they listen to me because I am their parent. I think too many parents now are afraid to be the boss, say no, shut of the tv, they have structured their kids so much they don't know how to use their imaginations, explore their surroundings. I find it sad that there are suggestions for getting your child to explore the outdoors. What a shame.
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