Getting Outside In Winter
A recent report for the National Trust suggests that ‘nature deficit disorder’ could be creating all sorts of issues for our children...
...such as attention difficulties, diminished use of senses and higher rates of physical and emotional disorders.
As parents its important to encourage our children to get out into nature and move more – every step will make a difference so get out there and get walking. It’s time to add… a pinch of adventure, a garnish of green time and a big handful of play.
So, at this time of the year how do we persuade our children away from the screen and the cosy sofa and into the cold outdoors. It can be tricky – so we have to be creative.
We need to make it extra exciting and special, wrapping up in hats, scarves and gloves and donning our wellies. To quote from Winnie the Pooh… “when you see someone putting on his big boots, you can be pretty sure that an adventure is going to happen.”
Winter and early Spring walks can be quite magical with frost, mist and puddles, crunchy leaves, twigs, branches and squelchy mud.
Prepare a plan of action and then let the adventures happen. Kids enjoy planning and plotting too – so get them involved. Fire up the imaginations by creating maps and trails, talk about wildlife and what they might spot while walking.
Take binoculars, magnifying glasses and maybe an old camera or disposable one to record and observe what you find on the walk so that you can look at it again at home.
Children love to see the detail in nature – go on a bug hunt, look for animal tracks, check to see if anyone or anything has been there before. Make your own marks and footprints in the mud for other explorers to discover.
Scatter treasures – children love to collect pebbles, leaves and twigs – and take them home in a special ‘collecting bag’. Take crayons and paper for recording bark and leaf rubbings. Play word games such as ‘I Spy’ or the alphabet game where you search for an item for each letter.
Don’t we all love to hug a tree and feel the energy? See how many family members it takes to create a circle around to hug the tree…
Look for challenges and allow children to test their skills in balancing on fallen logs, running up embankments, jumping puddles and scaling bridges. Try den building with natural materials to explore, see, touch and construct.
Allow your children to be wild, run free, get dirty and connect with nature and wildlife. It’s all there to experience, and don’t we always feel more alive when we have just been in the fresh air and nature. It’s our gift to our children and is free and there to be enjoyed.