May 15, 2018

4 Smart Tips To Help Encourage Your Child to Spend More Time Outdoors This Spring

At long last, springtime has finally arrived, and with it are countless kids yearning to get back outside and play. And of course, there are also the kids that may need a bit more encouragement to get some activity and outdoor time. Children's activity levels inevitably vary at all ages, but if you're having some trouble encouraging your child to spend time outdoors, there are a number of simple steps you can take to spark their imagination and help them to hit the ground running. Here are just a few kid-friendly tips to help encourage more outdoor time this season.

Sign Them Up For A Team Sport

If your child has a lot of energy and seems as though they could benefit from participating in a team sport after school, sit down with them and talk it over. Don't be pushy about it, of course, but tell them you want to see them reach their potential and you think it'd be healthy for them. Chances are, they'll bring up their favorite sport in gym or most beloved recess activity. If not, there's no harm in taking a chance and letting them try a new sport. For example, 25 million kids play soccer around the globe every year, and there are plenty of opportunities to register your child for a seasonal and age-appropriate soccer league.

Turn Outdoor Time Into Family Time

In addition to considering a team sport for your child, don't neglect the importance of forming a strong family-based team. Commit to having at least one outdoor activity night per week, in which family members can take turns choosing outdoor activities. The possibilities are endless: you can arrange an adventurous game of nighttime hide and seek with flashlights, form teams and shoot some hoops at the park, or invest in bicycles for the whole family and go on weekly bike rides. In 2015, 36 million Americans from age seven and up rode a bicycle six or more times, making cycling a healthy activity that the whole family can enjoy. Just don't forget to prioritize safety by making sure all riders wear a helmet, regardless of age or experience: helmet headliners typically only break in about 5%, but you never know when a helmet could prevent what could've potentially been a serious injury.

Make The Experience Educational

Even if your child isn't necessarily a huge fan of athletics, that doesn't mean they can't enjoy outdoor time. Visit the library with them to check out a book about nature, and take a walk through the woods identifying plants and animals you recognize. This will help spark their passion for science and how it relates to the circle of life and the great outdoors. Don't be surprised if, after a few walks, your child is eager to go back to the library and check out a new nature book!

Let Them Lead The Way

Finally, it's important to keep in mind during all outdoors time that your child is just that: a child, both in mind and at heart. They're bound to get naturally curious and want to meander off the path a bit. That's okay. Let them lead the way through woods, over hills, into creeks and through puddles, streams, and valleys. Let their adventurous souls and spirits lead the way, and their hearts are sure to follow.

If all else fails, don't hesitate to see what other opportunities your child's school can provide to encourage them to spend more time outside. Whether your child attends public school, or private school, which accounts for 25% of the nation's schools, you may be surprised at the expanding number of sports and other outdoor activities and clubs available that are intended to get kids outside and moving around as often as possible. And don't give up! Once you spark your child's passion for the great outdoors, there's simply no going back.

Devin is a writer and an avid reader. When she isn't lost in a book or writing, she's busy in the kitchen trying to perfect her slow cooker recipes. You can find her poetry published in The Adirondack Review and Cartridge Lit.