Childhood obesity is a growing problem all over the world, but more so in developed nations such as the US, UK, and Australia. This health issue plaguing young people is attributed to a myriad of factors, which include the strong inclination to eat fast food and the rise of digital technology.
Digital technology has given birth to exciting virtual games for young children. These games are so addicting that even toddlers can spend a long time just playing on gaming consoles, tablet PCs, and smartphones. This literally means that children’s brains get a tremendous workout but their bodies do not. Digital games only require eye and hand coordination most of the time.
How children gravitate to digital games prevents them from developing other vital skills that outdoor play does, such as social skills and highly coordinated gross and fine motor skills, which are crucial to becoming well-rounded human beings. Needless to say, if you wish for your little ones to become well-rounded people, it is essential to develop their interest in outdoor play.
Naturally, you need to exert the effort in making outdoor play seem more exciting. Here are some ideas to work with to achieve this goal.
1. Invest in a multi playset for your yard.
If you think a piece of play equipment makes for a great investment for your children’s enjoyment and development, do not just settle for a single swing or a slide, get a multi playset. Sure, it is more expensive, but it offers more possibilities for games and challenging outdoor fun.
But perhaps the best thing about such a playset is more children can use it at the same time. For example, with the Kosciuszko Playset, four children can use it the same time. One can sit down and swing, another can try basic gymnastics with the trapeze swing, and two can climb a wall and a rope ladder.
With a multi playset, your children can expand their range of movements easily. At the same time, they can come up with their own fun games.
2. Set up events in your yard.
Parties, hunts, and picnics with family and friends — all these can make your little ones more interested in outdoor fun than staying cooped up inside of the house playing computer games.
Take a cue from Hollywood actress Sela Ward who hosts a yearly scavenger hunt on her property. Young and old come together, running around for some fun under the sun, which culminates in a big barbecue picnic with lots of singing and dancing. This is a type of enjoyment your children cannot get by just playing games on the computer.
3. Create giant versions of favourite board games.
There are two things that children love, tiny toys and big toys. For your backyard, go for giant toys and you will easily draw the kids out of the house. Giant Jenga is always a winner (which you can create using thick blocks of wood). Ditto with Tic Tac Toe, Scrabble (you can actually buy letter tiles now) and even chess.
4. Encourage the little ones to create something.
Provide them the props to stage an outdoor play (which is perfect if you want to get your kids into modelling or acting), bring out a large chalkboard that they can draw on, have them build an outdoor reading fort — these activities are fun but the kids get full control of the kind of enjoyment they will have.
5. Decorate your yard.
There’s nothing like decking out your yard to encourage your kids and even older members of the family to spend more time outdoors. If you hang twinkling lights across the yard like a canopy, the young ones may actually enjoy playing tag at night instead of just watching TV.
Your kids may also be keen on nighttime volleyball or badminton of if you hang fairy lights from your DIY court net, especially this summer once school’s out.
Paper bunting and lanterns also make great decor. They will make your property look quite festive, hence, an ideal venue for lawn games and other types of outdoor activities.
The lure of digital games keeps young children indoors and sedentary, which is not good for their physical health. As a parent, improving their quality of life is something that you can definitely do. Hopefully, the ideas shared here on how to make outdoor play interesting create the shift in your kids’ preferred brand of fun.
Michael Davies is the Senior Account Manager at Sandleford, a trusted supplier of letterboxes and home security products and solutions in Australia. The company’s Swing Slide Climb range has grown and grown over the past 4 years, and together with Bunnings Australia, it has become one of the most exciting and innovative suppliers and developers of children’s play equipment in the Australian market.