Every year parents spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on toys and activities for their kids. While many of
things are great for keeping young minds and bodies active, many of them are not necessary. Yes, as parents, we spend this money because our kids need structured play, but they also need “free” play and this is easy to do when the world’s largest playground is right outside your back door. Why not let them play outside?
Throughout the years, every toy, book, and TV show that comes out has been designed and redesigned several times in order to make it more educational and entertaining for children. The great thing about nature is that it’s not only entertaining and stimulating to the imagination, it’s also educational. While kids are outside playing, nature is all around them and can teach children the basics of science, economics, and even creativity.
I know of a few moms who don’t encourage their children to play outside because “it’s messy”. Well yes, kids can get dirty and they probably will… but playing outside has many advantages for both parents and kids.
1) It’s cheap… and usually free. Depending on where you live, exploring nature is usually pretty inexpensive, if not free. This may mean going out in your backyard, visiting a local park, or going to the local nature center or state park (which usually have low cost fees or memberships).
Letting kids enjoy the outdoors also means that you don’t have to pay for expensive toys and will allow you to spend more time with your family, rather than cleaning! I don’t know about you, but cleaning our house can be a chore and usually takes at least a couple of hours, so as my twins grow older, we will definitely be encouraging them to play outside while getting the benefit of stimulating and educational play.
2) It may help the world be more “eco-friendly“. Everyone these days is trying to be more green and more environmentally conscious, even me. So what better way to help do your part than to get your children interested in their own planet than now when they’re young and impressionable? What might be a fun time for them now, might be a future hobby, career, or world saving invention. Letting them play outside may encourage them to be more eco-friendly and care about the world they live in.
3) It’s fun. Childhood isn’t just for learning about how to be an adult, it’s also about having fun. I know as a new parent this sometimes get’s away from me.. I want my kids to learn as much as they can while their little brains can soak it up so I feel like I’m constantly teaching instead of just letting them be kids.
While unstructured play outside is great for kids, you can also find a lot of places offering structured classes and learning sessions for kids that focus on the natural world. Check your local park, zoo, or museum. There’s a good chance they have classes you can sign up for, and since many of these places are not for profit, they’re usually very affordable as well as informative.
Remember, spending time in the outside world is important for developing minds. It can also be a great escape for you as well.