With the beautiful weather finally upon us, a lot of us are itching to get back out into the great outdoors.
However, a frequent concern of the current generation of parents is getting their children back to nature, back to playing outside and away from excessive amounts of screen time. Recent research from the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group in the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario indicates that Canadian school-aged children spend 65 to 80 percent of their waking hours engaging in sedentary behaviour.
While it is recommended that children between two and four years have less than an hour of screen time per day, many children and families far exceed that amount.
Having alternate activities up your sleeve is a great way to give your child a choice without them feeling limited (while avoiding the temper of your three-nager), and all of those choices involve the parents first setting a positive example.
YOU ARE THEIR BIGGEST ROLE MODEL!
Here are some of our favourite ways to get our small ones exploring the wilderness again!
*No actual trips to the wilderness required.
GROW THEM UP! Get those hands dirty and plant some veggies. Not only will your children learn how things grow (and love playing in the soil), but you can grow organic, real food for a fraction of the cost. You can even regrow kitchen scraps like lettuce, onions and potatoes by replanting the roots.
3 R’s RAILROAD! Teach them the joys and benefits of reduce, reuse, and recycle, while feeding their love of Thomas the Tank Engine! Bust out the glue gun, cleaned recycling and any other craft materials you want to decorate with. Then have them practice their counting and sorting skills by sorting nuts or pebbles into the different cars.
EXPLORATION EDUCATION! Kids learn best when they can freely explore, ask questions and try to come up with their own thoughts on things. Simply letting them outside is a great way to teach them to entertain themselves. Put the phone down, grab a bucket, a magnifying glass and go exploring (even if it’s in your own backyard!). Let them use a rake, or pick all the dandelions, and they can even try helping with the actual yard work. Children love to feel they are helping and even if it takes longer to have them help, you are teaching them a valuable lesson about caring for and simply enjoying nature.
COLOUR THEIR WORLD! Colouring is a great way to encourage children’s imaginations as well as their fine motor skills. Find something that interests them, or download our free colouring pages to see what your small one can create!
No matter where your child is learning, inviting what is outdoors in, encourages the connection between child and nature, and helps them become more aware of the world around them. The unspoken third teacher in the room is that of the environment, an important element of the Reggio Emilia philosophy, where the classroom is designed to inspire and foster the journey of learning through independence and choice.