The importance of Outdoor play as a young child and how this enriches development

So here goes my very first blog post.. ekk i’m not the best at this by any means, my grammar and punctuation will be way out of wack i’m certain. But please ignore all that because tonight I am writing this in regards to a topic that sits close to home for me. Sit back relax and let me tell you about the importance of Outdoor play and the benefits of not wrapping your children up in cotton wool.

I’ve been brought up by two extra ordinary parents and without them I wouldn’t be who I am today. I come from a family of 3 children. I am the youngest child at 19, my brother is 21 and my sister is 26 years old. We have been very fortunate to grow up being pushed into things even when we didn’t want to. Mum and dad would always be at Kayak races, triathlons, Runs, Harriers, cycle races, and yeah you see my point. My parents have been involved with multi-sport for as long as i can remember, this always meant we tagged along to. There is something about the ‘sport’ side of things even as a young child watching my parents interact with others that  has taught me a lot about communicating and engaging with others around me.

I started running with Mum when I was just eight years old and hated it. We would run one power pole and walk the other, all the time moaning about how my legs were sore and how I hated it so much. Mum would constantly be like one more power pole and then we will be nearly home, “every step gets you further to the finish Gracie” she would say (time after time). I remember getting to a point when I had just turned ten years old and I could run around our three kilometer block at home and talk to mum whilst running, its like at that point I had developed that crazy addiction running gives you and never since have I lost it. Another memory I have of being in the outdoors (there are many but these impacted on me) that ill never forget is when we all went up a local walkway to Mount Somers. I was just eight years of age and I stopped and started crying saying how hard it was, dad told me to harden up and get up the bloody thing. At the time I was so mad he was making me do it because it was very hard work for my little legs, but now as a teenager I’ve never been more grateful to be this fit and healthy because that shaped me into the person I am today and it would have to be the greatest asset I have gained out of my nineteen years by far.

The following are some tips for parents for their own kids to help shape them into little adventure junkies and not boxed up inside a house in front of a box :

  • Learn to be patient with them :  Work in small steps. Set wee goals for them and get out there and do it with them. Whether it’d  be going for a bike ride to feed the ducks and back or running one power-pole walking the next. Children show their feelings very well so it will be easy to tell if you’re over doing it or they’re finding it a piece of cake. Setting realistic goals for them will help enrich their development as they will learn to carry this with them as they grow up, and goals are the best way to achieve anything.
  • Don’t wrap them up in cotton wool : We all know of a mother who frets about their child going outside and ‘scrapping their knee’ so hands them a device instead. That is the worst possible outlook on your child’s upbringing. its only teaching them to never risk getting hurt and to never go outside of their comfort zone and replace it with a technological device because that will be their fix. Kids need to run around in the mud, make huts, fall over, climb trees and be just be KIDS. They certainly do not need an unrealistic robot formed device with controls to control things inside a screen as they run around having fun. That is what you should be teaching them as children… that Adventures are the best way to possibly learn and not via a device.

 

Putting your children in the elements of the outdoors from a young age will increase their cognitive, physical, social and emotional well being. Being in the outdoors is a natural and compelling activity and should be influenced. Children love to have fun and play and it is scientifically proven that through being exposed to natural light and boisterous and gross movements regularly that the outdoors provides it leads to  bone development a stronger immune system and physical activity. The need to be physically active from a young age nowadays is becoming more important with the rapid-ally growing increase in child obesity.

Contact with natural elements

The outdoor environment offers unique elements that capture children’s attention and interest. Sticks, rocks, flowers, soil, water, etc., are explored with curiosity and drive to learn, as they offer countless possibilities for play.

As a young child I remember making huts, collecting snails, having mud fights, picnics in the paddocks, going on bike rides and all sorts. As a teenager in this generation with the increase in technology and the decrease in people talking and communicating with each other nowadays I fear for the next generation and how this will effect them. I know I am not a parent but I really hope that the upbringing on the youth of tomorrow is not done behind a box or screen.

 

I am grateful to have the parents I have who have taught me so much about whats really out there when you’re willing to risk getting muddy, dirty or wet and how being in nature with the ones you love can really flourish relationships and connect you like No other. It gives you time to breath in fresh air, explore and connect with the ones that mean most. I want to thank my parents especially my mum who has became one of my closest friends through always being down to get out there and do stuff with me and I hope one day I can pass on the legacy you hold to my own offspring and show them what learning, growing and developing is all about.

Whether you are a parent, a child, a daughter whatever you can take some advice and knowledge from this blog and that is to get out and get involved. LIFE IS FAR TOO SHORT. You are unique and wonderful and we are all on a journey of never ending learning but it is how you chose to learn or teach you children to learn and I sure as hell hope you do not decide to do this by a device.

I will leave you with one of my all time favorite quotes to think about today and always.

“Everyone wants to live on top of the Mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while climbing it” – Andy Rooney

Until next time @therunawaygirl.com