In a very short span of time our lives have been flipped upside down. Places of gathering have been closed. Schools are shutting its doors and millions of children are staying home. Parents and children are struggling to adjust to this new normal which may go on for weeks or months. Like a tidal wave, fear, stress and anxiety are swelling, ready to overwhelm.
While many of our regular haunts are no longer accessible, remember that nature is still a safe space as long as we maintain proper social distancing (6 feet or 2 meters) from one another. Not only is nature still safe for our children, playing in nature will actually protect out children during this difficult time.
Go outdoors and take advantage of the time and space that we have … do it in small groups.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, Health Officer of British Columbia, Canada
Nature Play Protects our Children’s Physical Health.
When children are exploring nature they can run, jump and climb! Nature provides a diverse space for children to release pent-up energy, build strength and coordination and absorb some much needed vitamin D. Viruses also tend to survive for shorter periods of time in nature compared to indoor spaces.
Nature Play Protects our Children’s Mental Health.
Nature has a powerful impact on our sense of well being. This fact is true for adults and children. Recent studies have shown that children playing in nature experience less stress and anxiety making it a perfect antidote to panic and worry. Being in nature also improves focus, impulse control and self-esteem.
Tips for Accessing Nature with Children during a Pandemic
If playing in nature is new for you and your child, I want to take a moment to welcome you to a wild and wonderful world! Here are a few tips that will help you get started:
- Find spaces for nature play. Look for areas in nature that children can explore freely. While walks and hikes are nice, most children prefer exploring creeks, forests, ponds, ocean beaches and open fields.
- Get off the beaten trail. Search out nature areas that are less popular and less trafficked, this will ensure there are fewer people around.
- Dress for the weather. Rain or shine, be sure to dress up so that you and your child will enjoy being outside together.
- Watch out for certain bugs. Spring in the Northern Hemisphere means tick season has started. Cover up with long shirts and pants, use bug repellent and check for ticks when you return home.
- Always be prepared. Pack water, snacks, first aid supplies and always let someone know where you are going. These easy actions can make a big difference if something unexpected happens on your adventure.
Nature Play Resources for Parents
Children that are new to playing in nature may feel scared, reluctant or bored at first. Don’t let this initial reaction discourage you. Even parents of “nature children” experience these sentiments on a regular basis. To quell these feelings, tap into some of these resources:
- Join an online support group: Raising Outdoor Kids, Wildschooling or Active at Home .
- Start a nature challenge: 1000 Hours Outside 2020 Challenge, Spring Outside 2020 (starts April 1, 2020) or a Monthly Outdoor Adventures.
- Craft with nature with ideas from Mother Natured or Little Pine Learner.
- Get inspired by reading a book There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom’s Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids or great websites like Run Wild My Child and Active for Life.
Join us for Spring Outside 2020.
Join us for Spring Outside 2020, 30 days of motivation and inspiration to get you and your child outside connecting with nature during the month of April. For more information click HERE or sign-up HERE.
Join our Raising Outdoor Kids Facebook Group!
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