Some of our best childhood memories involve playing outside — feeling the earth between our fingers, discovering incredibly tiny insects, playing hide and seek, and experimenting on how high we can go on swings, among many other things. In truth, aside from providing thousands of ways to have fun and explore the world, the outdoors also offer a multitude of benefits for children’s health and happiness. The Huffington Post explains that aside from boosting immunity and providing Vitamin D, outdoor play also helps develop problem-solving abilities, social skills, and muscle development. Just a few minutes outside can also help reduce stress and encourage a sense of wonder among children.
However, a shocking recent report on The Guardian reveals that the average British child spends less time outdoors than adult prisoners, with three out of four having less than an hour’s worth of fresh air. One in five don’t play outside at all.
Therefore, it’s important for today’s parents to be able to encourage their children to go outside and play. And with summer right around the corner, here are some fun ideas for designing an outdoor space for your kids.
Building activity spaces
One way to encourage kids to spend time outdoors is by introducing them to outdoor activities that they will enjoy. The most common examples of outdoor activities are swings and slides in playgrounds, but there are plenty of other ways to do this to suit your child’s hobbies and interests.
For example, a previous post here on Simple Parenting recommends building a fairy garden with your child in the backyard. Not only will this get them outside, they can also be creative in the design of their garden and be responsible for watering and taking care of the plants every day.
Meanwhile, Parents Magazine shares that artistic kids will enjoy things like an outdoor ease or garden chalkboard to draw under the sun, with the added benefit of keeping chalk dust and paint splashes out of the house and off the furniture. You can also encourage kids to hold summer plays with makeshift theatre curtains or boat races using plant saucers as a small pond. You can also encourage active play with sandboxes and stump steps.
A place of their own
For those with a little more space in the garden, another great way to get kids to spend time outside is by building them a playhouse. This gives them a dedicated space for their activities and toys, therefore helping you declutter the house, while also teaching them to take responsibility for their own things.
Having their own mini-house to tidy up, maintain, and decorate can help empower them as well. Screwfix features a range of playhouses that can be decorated or stained according to you and your child’s preference. Enlist their help in choosing styles, colours, and furnishing for their own mini-home and let their imaginations run wild. Incorporate their favourite characters into the design of your home, or even include built-in climbing grips or monkey bars to help them stay active. You can even add in some cozy pillows and blankets for movie nights together in the summer.
Image credit: Homedit
Meanwhile, older kids can also enjoy conversation pits and areas designed for having friends over or hanging out as a family. Entice them away from their computers and into the outdoors with lawn chairs, a fire pit, and even some great ambient lighting for maximum comfort and coziness. Plan games and prepare snacks for some fun outside for the entire family. As an added bonus, you and your friends could also enjoy the space once your kids have gone to bed.
Do you have any other ideas for designing outdoor spaces for children? Let me know in the comments section below!