We all know how important sunshine and outdoor activities are for our children. The recent emergence of the coronavirus pandemic has caused significant fear for many families causing them to avoid venturing out of the house. Healthychildren.org has outlined some specific ways parents can encourage outdoor play while keeping children safe.
- Allowing children to build nature sculptures with twigs, leaves, cones, rocks and other things naturally found outdoors can stimulate their creativity and improve fine motor skills. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen before heading out!
- If you’re able, biking is a wonderful way to get outdoors with the family. Lubbock has several parks that are bike friendly, just be sure each child has a properly fitted helmet
- Encourage imaginary play by letting children use old pots and utensils to make their own kitchen outdoors and prepare mud pies and mud cakes.
- A nature scavenger hunt is a great way to continue learning away from the kitchen table. Consider encouraging children to create a nature journal of trees and/or animals they see along the way. They can even do some research on that gorgeous cardinal they spotted! My youngest son loves to collect acorns on our walks, so we have started carrying a Ziplock bag for him to carry them. They can be left in a container outside for the squirrels.
- Enjoy some ball time outside. Kick the soccer ball back and forth, play catch with a football, softball, tennis ball, etc. You don’t need a net to play volleyball, draw a chalk-line net on the concrete.
- If you choose to play on outdoor equipment at a park test the temperature first, it may be very hot if it is in the sun. I recommend carrying Clorox wipes to wipe down equipment before and after play.
Outdoor play is very important for children, teens and adults. It improves physical and mental well-being, increases focus and engagement in learning and is a great mood-booster. Any parent of a toddler will tell you if he’s fussy, take him outside! The same is true for children, teens and adults alike.