When we think fondly back on our own childhood memories of playing outside until dark most days without much more than sticks, some acorns, and our friends to jumpstart our imaginations, the contrast to the image of today’s youth as over-scheduled, tech-tethered, and nature-averse can be jarring. Unfortunately, a new survey of 1,000 parents by U.K.-based National Trust found there’s some truth to this unpleasant modern picture: kids today spend about half as much time every week playing outside as their parents did (about four hours for today’s kids versus over eight hours for their parents). Although 96% of the surveyed parents believe that playing outside is important for children’s development and that a connection with nature is valuable, today’s lifestyle lends itself less to outdoor-based, unstructured play time. To provide parents with easy, free or low-cost, hands-on ideas for getting kids outside, the Trust came up with a list of “50 things to do before you turn 11 3/4.” With suggestions including rolling down a really big hill, making a mud pie, and crafting a daisy chain, the list merely serves as a place to start. We have all seen from our own kiddos that once they actually get outside and start playing, the creative juices typically begin flowing, and they come up with wild and fantastical games of their own. Summer is a great time to start experimenting with lengthening your child’s outdoor play time. Take advantage of the long, sunlit days and the (hopefully) less busy afternoons and weekends, and encourage the entire family to tackle some of the items on the Trust’s list.
Lead image © Jenn Richardson via Unsplash