5 Ways to Get Your Children Ready for the Summer Outdoors
Summer is coming, and your kids are looking forward to the school break as well as the time outdoors. If your kids aren’t used to spending a lot of time outside because of inclement weather or winter illness, it’s time to get them ready.
Spending time outdoors is important for kids for many reasons. It builds confidence, promotes creativity and imagination, teaches responsibility, teaches science, gets kids moving and reduces stress and fatigue. It also gives kids a good dose of Vitamin D, which is important for bone health.
Unfortunately, the lure of air conditioning and online videogames keeps many kids from venturing outside. A recent Nature Conservancy Poll said that 80 percent of kids polled said outside was uncomfortable because of bugs and heat, 62 percent said they didn’t have transportation to natural areas and 61 percent said there weren’t natural areas near their homes.
One way to combat this trend is for kids to attend summer camp. Many summer camps spend a lot of time outdoors, and often time in wooded areas. If your kid isn’t prepared for this, it can be a culture shock and a challenge. But you can get your kids ready with a little preparation.
- Go on a hike. Take your kids to a nearby hiking trail and spend some time in the woods. Point out unique trees, animals you encounter and different types of natural areas, such as wetlands, grasslands and other ecosystems. Teach them how to follow trail markers and to never wander off the trail.
- Go camping. If you’re more adventurous, take your kids camping. Even if you only go for one night, it’s good to get your kids out of the city and into the natural areas. You can teach them to build a campfire safely, roast marshmallows and gaze up at the night sky. Sleeping in the woods can be a wonderful experience for kids used to the noises of a city.
- Take them out in the yard. It’s pretty basic, but spending time in the backyard is a very good start. Show kids the bugs, worms and other creepy-crawly things that are right under their noses. Show them ant hills, plants, trees and grass. If you have a garden, teach them about how it grows.
- Go for a bike ride. Dust off the bikes in the garage and go for a ride with your kids. Teach them basic bicycle safety and how to ride on the road. If you have very young children, get a baby seat for your bike and take them with you. The wind in their faces will be exciting and fun.
- Go birding. There are all kinds of advantages to becoming a birder, both for your child and the pair of you. To start, it’s an opportunity to learn about your immediate environment: exactly what kinds of birds live there, the kinds of habitats they live in, why your area’s climate is ideal for them, and how different birds have adapted to human presence. It’s an excellent opportunity to learn about the environment around you and how your children can help.
Once it’s summer camp time, your kids will be ready for adventure. They’ll also grow up with an appreciation for nature and the environment, and they’ll get much-needed exercise. They’ll be ready for the heat and bugs, and they’ll have a greater understanding of science. The most important thing outdoor adventures give your family is bonding time together. The opportunity to spend precious time with them while they’re still young will help you come together as a strong family unit.
Author: Anya Willis