It is well known that children love the outdoors and that nature’s benefits are far reaching. Unstructured time spent in the natural world has been linked to improved emotional, intellectual and physical functioning*. I’ve witnessed the sense of curiosity, creativity and mastery that evolves from outdoor play. Playgrounds, trails, sandboxes and gardens or just plain old dirt are great venues for imaginations to unfold and learning to take place. Children can fuel up on Vitamin D and “feed” their proprioceptive and vestibular systems, which is especially important for those with sensory processing challenges.
So why, despite all these advantages is technology and inside endeavours taking centre stage in children’s lives? I think it has to do with three trends. First; we are becoming the most overprotective generation of parents. The reality is children are safer than ever before and more at risk of being harmed by someone they know. Maintaining open communication about boundaries and “stranger danger” (regular “what would you do if…” discussions), a close, connected relationship with caregivers and a connected neighbourhood all act as protective barriers for kids. Second, I think play has become greatly undervalued in favour of structured activities with an emphasis on excelling rather than experiencing. This was highlighted in the CBC documentary “The Hurried Child.” Third, I wonder if today’s parents are just more tired, working longer hours and tied to their mobile devices. Modelling is essential for healthy lifestyle choices in children. So give yourself and your kids a break and turn off the TV, put the cell phone down and go outside and play. I promise it will do wonders for you too.
Looking for a fun way to release mood enhancing endorphins and challenge your mental and physical strength in support of a great cause? Kin Club of Woolwich’s Amazing Race is on July 21, 2012. Team Registration opened May 1rst! You can dedicate your team or pledges in support of FCCCND at http://www.woolwichkin.com/.
Counsellors can help you work through barriers and empower you to simplify your life. Start reaping the benefits of fresh air today. Come to our walk-in counselling on Thursdays from 1-7 pm to get the help you need, when you need it!
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Nicole June 1/12
http://www.todaysparent.com/activities/family-exercise – Here’s a great article for inspiration.