Those of you who know me know that myself, husband and children, spend the majority of our time outdoors in any weather. Sometimes doing organised sports but more often that not “adventuring.” They always ask in excitement, if we’re going on one of “my” walks.
We dont follow paths, we climb through trees, march through puddles and rivers, build stick houses, hang upside down, follow animal tracks, we come home covered in scratches,clobbered in mud, content, tired and hungry. We wouldnt have it any other way.
Children need to explore, they need to learn to problem solve on large scale, they need to develop a sense of height and depth, learn not to be scared of getting mucky hands (especially for boys and children with sensory disorders) , learn how to pick themselves up and get on with things if they have a tumble instead of being wrapped in cotton wool.
I’m always amazed at how many questions I get asked when we’re outside. Everything from why does the sea come in and out, to how do sea lions recognise their friends, how long will our dog live for, what colour are your insides (yes these are just a few Ive been asked) they seem funny on the face of it but where a question like that can lead you is incredible! It’s an amazing bonding experience. It’s good to talk
I’m not saying park up beside a forest, open the door and let them turn feral but you can create a controlled environment for them where they can feel independent and have these experiences without feeling you are watching over their shoulders. The best way to do this is to get involved in what they are doing, you’ll be amazed at how much fun you will have mimicking them instead of directing them.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Poking sticks in a muddy puddle is surprisingly therapeutic. I’m not kidding, give it a go and see!
There is something very satisfying about collecting enough rocks to build a little dam on a run away stream and see their excitement as it starts to bubble over.
Take your socks and shoes off and splash your feet in a river, it feels amazing and freeing. If they splash you, splash them back!
Build a stick hut together but let them be the architect. So what if there’s a hole in the roof and you couldn’t swing a cat inside, to them it’s perfect!
Here’s one for the little ones, collect and bring all the teddies for a picnic in the middle of the woods. Pack them into back packs, one for them and one for you.
Run with them when they run, skip when they do, collect daisies together, follow the butterflies….I could go on.
I would be here all day if I were to list all the benefits of one little afternoon out! Everything from family bonding, to language development, gross and fine motor skills development, fitness, self actualisation to name a few…
So come on, let’s let our little people be little people, freeze frame on the whole growing up thing (for them and us!!) Goodness knows they aren’t little for long!