With technology often getting in the way, it’s important that children still appreciate the outdoors. And you don’t have to go far! As the lighter nights come in, spend time after school in the back garden or down at a local allotment and have fun whilst educating your children. Read on as we find out more:
New skills to learn
If your child is in their early stages of development, spending time in the garden can develop their skillset.
Your child can have fun whilst improving their sensory and cognitive development. There is an abundance of research behind the advantages of messy play and how this unstructured form of activity can really help your child develop. This can be done in the garden with bags of topsoil, sand, water or even mud! It’s all about breaking down the usual rules that your child might face, such as being restricted to a play mat or not being too disruptive with toys. Encourage your child to draw shapes with different (child-friendly) tools and their fingers in various materials — this can help children to build up their finger and arm muscles, which is useful for when they come to hold a pen.
There’s a whole new world of textures for your child to discover outdoors too. They become used to handling solid objects, such as toys, and these are easy for children to learn because they don’t change shape. For example, letting your child come into contact with mud, a softer material, lets children broaden their knowledge and allows them to compare and understand new textures.
Encourage your child to spend time outdoors, even if it is when they do their homework. Your child might have spent all day behind a desk at school doing their work and it’s nice to have a break from this when they come home. Make it easy for your child to work outdoors by purchasing a gazebo or having a table and chairs outdoors where homework can be done. 85% of teachers reported that they saw a positive impact on their pupils’ behaviour when they were taught outside. In addition to this, 92% of pupils said that they preferred their lessons to be outdoors.
Research has supported the idea that children who learn outdoors are more aware of their responsibility for the environment than those who learn indoors.
Introducing a new diet
Studies have found that children enjoy eating the food that they grow. This can be a great way to improve their diet and get them outdoors.
Choose easy plants to grow to maximise their involvement. These include strawberries, cabbage, radishes and potatoes. You can decide on the size of your patch and watch as your child runs outside to see what has grown that week.
Give your little helpers something to do
It’s the same indoors — children generally enjoy feeling like they are helping out. Give them some tasks to do daily, or even weekly, and it’s likely that they’ll start to look forward to spending time in the garden.
Why not encourage your child to grow a sunflower? Each day, your child can head outdoors to see how their plant is growing and practise some maths skills through measuring. This can be exciting for a child, as often the sunflower will grow taller than them!
Let your child help out with keeping things tidy as well. Let them trim the edges of your garden, water the plants or do some de-weeding — it’s a nice way to spend time together, too.