Outdoor play. What’s not to love? It’s free. It’s simple. It expends energy.
It is refreshing, relaxing, and restoring. It is a chance to explore, create, imagine, experience, to flex all of the senses. The possibilities are endless, and these benefits are for the whole family, not just the children. Fresh air and a change of scene have the power to miraculously renew and reinvigorate even the most harried parent. Stresses melt away, and there is little choice but to live in the moment. Everyone sleeps better after some time in the great outdoors, and feels better after a hearty dose of the coveted Vitamin D.
Each week I watched her play, learn, her exploration and curiosity unfolding. I observed her improving and testing her balance, challenging herself physically. She was courageous. She was strong and her abilities and aims were beyond expectation. Given the chance and freedom, she could really explore herself and build confidence in her physical capabilities. I am convinced that these experiences have shaped her, steadied her on her feet and toughened her. She can hold her own and she believes in herself and her abilities in this world.
- Make it a regular part of your week – same time, same day. Commit to going, whatever the weather – in order to stick to this, invite other people to come with you. It’s always easier when you’ve got a buddy/ies (and will be more fun for you and the children when you are there).
- Be weather prepared – put together a bag with clothing and footwear and any other accessories to accommodate any weather, and keep it ready to go by the front door (an all in one waterproof is highly recommended).
- Find somewhere to go that you love, that you will look forward to going to. You can use this website to find local woodland.
- Take snacks and water.
- Remember that you don’t need to do anything. Given the chance (time and space) the children will find their own way and their own enjoyment of the setting. Leave expectations behind you and go with their flow.
Photographs by Jacki Davenport, Sophie Christophy and Clare Caro.
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