I have fond memories of childhood. We never wanted for anything, all our needs were met, and the house and neighborhood in which we lived was secure. All the kids knew each other and either we played together on the street corner in the summertime or sled down the hill when it snowed. There, of course, were epic snowball battles too. Parents did not hesitate to send their children outside to play because living in a nice suburb allowed them to do so safely. But you should check a new report about the safest suburbs in AU to get more information about the place where you are raising your kids.
We were lucky we lived where we lived, and here is why.
- The Benefits of Playing Outside
Old habits are hard to break and have long-term effects on our health and well-being. Kids who learn from an early age to enjoy playing outside are more inclined to exercise regularly throughout their lives and avoid problems such as obesity and high blood pressure. But, stronger bones and muscles are not the only benefits. Sunlight helps our eyesight stay keen and assists the body in producing vitamin D.
Outdoor activity affects the brain as it develops by cultivating memory skills, lessening the threat of ADHD, and enhancing the ability to reason, focus and concentrate. The outdoors provides time for exploration and discovery. It allows the child to adopt a sense of adventure as to what lies just around the bend. The simple act of finding one’s way from point to point may require critical thinking and innovativeness. Here creativity thrives.
Nature, in particular, has a calming effect on the system that soothes the spirit by grounding the child. It’s easier to release anger or despair or deal with distress while sitting under a Redwood tree than playing a video game. Nature provides the perfect setting to learn one is only a part of the whole, and that all life must be given respect to maintaining order and harmony. I recall walking through the forest in Finland with an elder who spoke about the need to convene with the natural world. As we passed others on the path, holding their bags of freshly picked mushrooms, he explained that we all need to enjoy nature because we are a part of it. It brings us peace and allows us time to rebalance ourselves. He is right.
- Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall
Each season brings its own special gifts. Autumn’s falling leaves illustrate the end of the cycle of life. Winter provides a breath of clean air and a host of new experiences like watching a snowflake fall from the sky, or feeling the force of a strong, cold wind. Spring is the time for rejuvenation and rebirth. Contrary to popular beliefs about wintertime, children are more likely to strengthen the system through rigorous activity from sledding, skiing, and hiking. Anyone who has ever made their way through deep snow can attest to the amount of energy required. And, the steeper the challenge, the greater the personal reward for making it from point A to point B. The child doesn’t realize that through completing a difficult task (while having fun) that self-confidence, self-worth and a belief in one’s self are being fortified.
There are additional health benefits for playing outdoors in the wintertime. Exposure to sunlight improves levels of serotonin that control our mental and emotional capacities. While winter can bring on depression for people, outdoor activities can address it.
- Dressing Appropriately
Common sense is important when sending kids outside to burn off energy. In the summertime, it is essential to apply sunscreen to prevent the hazardous effects of overexposure to the sun.
When spring and fall bring rains to your area, rain-gear is a must. On that note, many parents may believe kids should not be sent out in the rain. Now, should they be sent out in a lightning storm or hurricane? Well, no. But a light sprinkle on a warm spring day is invigorating and magical. It is cleansing and, according to studies, helps prevent allergies and asthma. Wintertime requires layers of clothing and gloves to stay warm, so it’s important to follow the age-old advice to bundle up! Winter gear must always include proper head-wear since heat escapes from the body through the head. Regardless of the season, but in particular during winter and summer, steps should always be taken to avoid overheating and dehydration. Make sure the kids stay hydrated.
Encourage children to play outside. Play outside with your kids! The key is to create a happy home environment in a safe neighborhood in which kids can grow and prosper. A wonderful upbringing raises a child to become a happy, healthy and productive person. Nature adds to that understanding from an early age that differences should be embraced, all life is sacred and that the greater good is most important.