“Tips for Reconnecting Your Children with Nature”
Spending time outdoors isn’t optional — at least, it shouldn’t be. However, over the last three decades, people have grown reliant on tone in seven hings like air conditioning and technology, and we have largely begun to stay indoors most of the time. This has led to an alarming trend of childhood obesity, attention disorders, and poor stewardship of the world in which we live. If you are a parent, you have the power to turn things around, starting today.
Here are some ways to encourage your children to spend more time outside:
Build a Personal Park
You can have a swing set or playground installed right in your own backyard, though the total cost will ultimately depend on the equipment (as well as the materials used to build them) you choose and whether you need to level your yard. This is a place of both recreation and exercise, and certain pieces of playground equipment can even subconsciously teach children to get along. There are many different types of playground equipment, and you can build your play area a bit larger to accommodate new pieces as your children grow. To start, consider a playhouse, swing, and climbing structure.
Turn Outdoor Time Into Learning Time
Children are naturally inquisitive about the world around them. When left to their own devices, they will touch and explore trees, leaves, bugs, and more. So, tap into their innate curiosity by turning outdoor time into an opportunity to learn about nature. One idea is to learn about math and science through outdoor storm spotting. You can build an anemometer, which is a tool used to measure wind speed. Weather Scope provides details on how to build one using paper cups, erasers, and other materials you have in your kitchen. Another fun way to spend time under the sun is to paint and build a birdhouse, which serves as both an activity for the kids and a new habitat for local birds.
Plant a Garden
You don’t have to have a bright green thumb to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables right from your own home garden. And there are many benefits for children, including that it encourages healthy eating and is a gentle introduction to complex scientific concepts. More importantly, a garden must be tended almost daily, which allows everyone an excuse to go outside. Before you begin, look for the perfect spot in your yard. This will have at least six hours of direct sunlight. Let your kids pick out a few vegetables — peppers, beans, and carrots are easy to grow. Nationwide also suggests looking at your local planting dates, which vary by hardiness zone.
Change Your Vacation Schedule
If you currently take a yearly week-long vacation, now’s a great time to consider breaking that up into two or three long weekends. This way, you can enjoy more time together outdoors while exposing the kids to new experiences. Depending on where you live, you are likely within just a few hours of many of the exceptional outdoor areas in the United States.
Take Your Other Hobbies Outside
With few exceptions, everything your kids do indoors can be enjoyed from a picnic blanket under a tree just as well. Things like reading, working puzzles, and drawing may even be more enjoyable outside since it becomes a multi-sensory experience. The kids can flip through their favorite comic book, for example, while also feeling the wind in their hair and hearing the sound of dogs barking and birds chirping in the background.
Getting everyone on board with the outdoors may seem like a daunting task. Spending a few minutes outside each day, however, it’s one of the healthiest habits you can instill in your children. So, turn off the TV and start planning your garden, playground, or vacation like your children’s health depends on it — because it does.
“A Day of Fun, a World to Explore: Rainy Day Indoor Activities for Kids ”
Rainy days that spoil outdoor plans in the spring and summer may prevent kids from having fun in the sun from time to time, and if you’re a parent trying to keep your children occupied on these wet days, the internet is both friend and ally, a dynamic outlet for their energy and creativity. No one would advise letting kids access just any website without doing some homework in advance. Fortunately, an hour or two of internet searching will lead you to some perfectly safe and wholesome online activities that’ll provide hours of fun for kids of all ages. Many of them contain enough of an educational quotient to reassure parents who are concerned about their kids being exposed to the more unsavory sites out there, such as these clever real estate lesson plans or these fun geology lesson plans (which can be done indoors).
If you don’t think you can entice your children into sitting down with actual school-based lessons, you still have plenty of options for keeping them entertained. If you can keep your kids away from the gaming console, social media, and the text function on their smartphones for a few fun and interactive hours, give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve shown them a healthy way to burn off all that excess energy in ways that don’t involve shooting down aliens or engaging in virtual street violence.
Kids love making things with their own hands. Do-it-yourself science projects allow them to combine substances in ways that produce cool reactions and impart a lesson or two. Watch their faces light up as they transform ordinary household items such as duct tape into alphabet-shaped magnets with nothing more than a pair of scissors, a few magnets and some cardboard. How about learning to make some duct tape flowers on YouTube that look like the real deal? It’s an inexpensive and creative way to spend a rainy day indoors.
Get ‘em moving
For decades, kids have loved showing off their hottest new dance routines. TV dance programs may not be as hot as they once were, but children can still pick up some new moves as they dance along to some of today’s most popular songs. The internet’s also a good source of dance videos for younger children, who benefit from physical movement and coordination-enhancing videos.
Learning to play
Music is another good way to keep kids engrossed while they’re stuck indoors. Introduce your children to different instruments and the free lessons that many musical websites offer. Children can learn about everything from the piano and violin to the drums and guitar.
Kids Guitar Zone offers a number of free guitar lessons. Children learn how to hold the instrument, use a pick, and manipulate the strings to create notes and chords before launching into playing songs. If your family has a piano, you’ve got a ready-made activity. Hoffman Academy posts an array of free lessons designed to get your kids interested in learning to play.
If your little artists like to express their creativity on your walls, the internet can provide plenty of free tutorials and lessons designed to interest children in creating art on paper, allowing them to show off their skills with everything from crayons to paint brushes. They’ll learn to create figures by drawing shapes and putting them together. You can join in the fun by encouraging your kids to try drawing a likeness of the whole family … or they could just start with the family dog.
Kids also love to bake their favorite sweet treats. Why not have them research a foreign country, then help them create a dish that’s indigenous to that country?
A day of exploration
A little research can set your kids up with wholesome games and lessons that’ll have them asking for more, and transform a day stuck indoors into an exploration into new artistic and musical territory. Who knows? You may end up setting your child on the path to a career in the arts and a life of creative endeavor.
Jenny Wise created Special Home Educator as a forum for sharing her adventures in homeschooling and connecting with other homeschooling families.
Tips for Encouraging Your Children to Develop Healthy Habits
Kids who learn to make healthy choices at a young age tend to grow up with positive life-long habits. As a parent, it’s your duty to teach your child how to live a healthy lifestyle. As your child gets older, set a good example, and keep an open communication with them about healthy and unhealthy behaviors. Here are some important ways to encourage good health in your growing child.
Tackle Mental Health Issues
According to CNN, mental illness affects one in seven American American children — it isn’t uncommon for children to struggle with ADHD, depression, or anxiety. Sadly, a large portion of these children do not receive treatment for their mental conditions. Mental health problems can tempt kids to experiment with drugs and alcohol or engage in other unhealthy behaviors. Fortunately, there are plenty of things parents can do to nurture their child’s mental health, such as maintaining strong relationships, creating a safe home environment, helping children solve upsetting problems, and praising them for their accomplishments.
If your child is showing signs of mental health issues, including trouble managing their emotions or disruptive behavior, you should also discuss it with their pediatrician as soon as possible. After an initial assessment, he or she can point you in the direction of additional resources. While some children do benefit from a prescribed medication, it is common to begin with therapy, additional physical activity, and other drug-free options.
Get Active as a Family
When it comes to physical activity, get the whole family involved. Take walks together, explore new neighborhoods, join a local sports team, and find another family to join you in a game of kickball, capture the flag, or tag. Outdoor activities are excellent stress-relievers for everyone involved. Build a personal park in your backyard, plant a garden, or just take everyday hobbies like reading outdoors. In the summer, biking and swimming are fantastic fitness pastimes. If you have a teenager, take some motivational advice from Psychology Today. For example, you can ask your teen to join you at the gym or for a run—they may come along just because they have nothing better to do!
During the pandemic, you may have difficulty getting out to the gym or going to your favorite parks. Fortunately, you can find plenty of online resources for exercises and routines your entire family can enjoy! Just make sure you don’t go too crazy with screen time. Nothing can replace the outdoors when it comes to bonding with your children.
Get Your Kids Involved in Meal Planning and Prep
A healthy diet is just as important as regular exercise—for kids and adults alike. However, getting picky eaters to chow down on veggies can be a constant battle. Children tend to be less picky about the foods they eat if they’re involved in meal planning and prep. So, ask your kids what they love to eat and make sure to incorporate these into your meal plan. Allowing your child to make these decisions is also great for their confidence and self-esteem. Encourage them to work fruit and vegetables into their meal plans. When it comes to meal prep, have your kids help out by measuring, reading recipes, choosing ingredients, and washing up after. Kids are more likely to try new foods when they help prepare them! You can even add cool kitchen equipment like sandwich presses to add something a little different to the process!
Eat Together as Often as Possible
Try to eat together as a family whenever possible. Research shows that children who eat with their parents have greater emotional health, do better in school, have a lower risk of obesity, and are less likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol. Plus, eating together is a wonderful chance to bond with your children!
Model Good Behavior
Finally, be sure to practice what you preach, since kids tend to copy their parents. So, leading by example and showing them how they should act is a necessary action for child rearing. An example is higher education, something we all want our children to pursue. An easy way to do this at home is by earning an online business degree, which lets you work at your own pace and opens up great work opportunities.
You should also use a seatbelt in the car, wear a bike helmet, and avoid smoking in front of your child. Let your child see that you’re making healthy choices, like exercising and eating healthy. When your child joins in, encourage them with plenty of praise and positive attention.
Parents can encourage children of any age to engage in healthy behaviors. Make a pact with your child to get fit or start on a healthy meal plan together. Working toward a healthy lifestyle as a family will only strengthen the bond between you and your children.