Why kids who play outside develop better life skills
WHAT does it take to get kids away from their screens and outside playing in their backyards?
For many parents and educators this is becoming more and more difficult to achieve with the younger generations of today lost in a world of technology.
With the national averages for children engaging in outdoor play steadily decreasing, the concern is that we are not raising healthy, resilient and creative children in our modern digital society.
An initiative that can help deliver many benefits to children is the Nature Play program that gets kids back outside engaging in unstructured play.
Evidence shows that those participating in more outdoor activities develop vital life skills.
Simple activities like sleeping under the stars, making mud pies, building a cubby from leaves or digging for worms provides rich sensory experiences for children that screen time cannot offer.
It's about encouraging kids to get out there to explore, learn and discover things for themselves in the natural environment.
Originating in Western Australia, the Nature Play program, recognised globally for its ability to reconnect children with nature, has proven successful in creating practical and proven opportunities for kids to get away from the screens and back outside.
Program Founder and CEO of Nature Play WA, Griffin Longley said encouraging children to swap their 'screen time' for 'green time' has its difficulties. The fear of risk has impacted on the childhood experiences that older generations took for granted like going down to the local park until dark.
The challenge of finding the time in our busy, highly scheduled lives is also a factor that seems to limit the chances children have to experience the great outdoors.
The program is an important resource for parents, educators, health-care providers and communities trying to raise healthy, happy, active children .
Mr Longley said "Many prescribed educational outcomes can be achieved through the program. It can be integrated into children's learning enabling them to get excited by the world they live in."
"Don't be scared. Find the time. Encourage children to have more active outdoor fun, to have adventures and stay fit and healthy in both mind and body." he said.
The program includes a passport, a website (natureplayqld.org.au) with more than 200 missions like nature scavenger hunts to complete, home diaries for school-aged children and special events, giving kids plenty of reasons to play in the yard, bush, beach or park.
Share your experiences and inspire other families to join the Nature Play movement by contributing to the conversation on Facebook.com/NaturePlayQLD, Instagram or Twitter, using the hashtag #NaturePlay.