I am a great believer in kids playing outside and exploring the outdoors. I think it is such an important part of growing up. That said I’m not a massive fan of playgrounds and parks, in fact I dread going. Don’t get me wrong we still go but I’d much rather go for a walk through the country park and let the kids use their imagination and explore, than queue for ages to get on the swings.
Growing up I would have always been outside, rain or shine. My dad was an outdoors type and being stuck in drove him mad! He was a builder by trade so he was often outside mending and fixing something or knocking something down and building it again. Growing up I was lucky to have a massive garden and a quiet cul-de-sac where I was able to ride round in circles on my bike for hours. Literally only going inside to eat or sleep. After all kids TV was only on for a couple of hours and computers? Xbox? PS1234? What were they!?!
Recently we have been going on a walk once a week on a Sunday and the kids have been great! They have been able to burn off energy and freely explore. We are lucky where we live that we aren’t too far from ideal walking routes, where it is safe for the kids to run free without the danger of traffic. One week when we went out it was lightly snowing and we took a walk along an old railway line route that has since been turned into a path. The kids could run free, try to catch snow in their mouths and explore the area. We passed lots of other people out walking and even a pack of Husky dogs which my son thought were Wolves and decided to shout ” Wolves!! Wolves are going to eat us!” . In total that day I think we had walked about 2.5 miles which was a big achievement for the kids! They really enjoyed it and enjoyed the hot chocolates and marshmallows once home even more!
Now my kids are only young, far too young to play out on their own but I would hope that once old enough they will be able to be trusted and knowledgeable enough to play out on their own.
You hear a lot of people saying “it’s not safe any more”. I think parents are scared to let their kids play out due to so much hype in the media. I personally think the only differences today to years ago are the amount of traffic on the roads and the fact that we are more aware of goings on due to the media.
At one time you could have played Kerby for ages without a car coming along to spoil the game now you just wouldn’t be able to.
I think without kids being able to go out and climb trees and build dens how on earth are they going to live and experience things. How are they going to learn how to be safe?? Telling a child “Don’t climb that tree! You’ll fall!” Is not a productive in my eyes. It just makes them scared. Instead encourage them to climb safely, by wearing appropriate clothing or staying low enough to help them down.
Building dens is another thing…….. We always use to build Dens, but I have read a lot of things in the media over recent years about children being asked to stop and leave by country park wardens. I think if children are encouraged to build dens sensibly, by using fallen branches already on the ground and made aware of wildlife and not disturbing natural habitats. Surely the way forward is to educate children on how to do these things safely, that way they will learn about the great outdoors and be more likely to respect it and use the open spaces available to them.
If you are looking to do a bit more outside and get the kids exploring and being adventuress then The National Trust have a campaign called “50 things to do before your 11 3/4” https://www.50things.org.uk/ This is an amazing list of things for kids (and parents) to do. I can’t recommend “50 things” highly enough! It gives advice on how and where to complete these tasks. You can sign up on-line or download the app and keep track of all of the activities the kids complete, you can even print off check lists and certificates!!
Go on! Get outside!!