5 Tips to Get Your Kid to Play Outside

June is almost over, but it’s still Great Outdoors Month. And, in case you didn’t know, this weekend is the Great American Backyard Campout so you better get your stuff in gear.

And what better time to follow-up on my last entry, Getting The Kids Outside, with some getting-the-kids-outside tips (especially since I haven’t been able to get my son to do a second interview–but you’ll be happy to know his attitude about going outside has improved dramatically).

These tips from the National Wildlife Federation’s Be Out There campaign will help families get a daily dose of nature–to improve children’s physical, mental and emotional well being.

Tip #1: Host a Backyard Campout

The outdoor vacation is making a comeback! A report from the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association says that overnight backpacking went up 18.5% between 2007 and 2008. And, in April, REI’s tent sales were up 14% over the same period last year.

But if your family’s not quite ready for wilderness camping, organize a campout in your own backyard! The Great American Backyard Campout is June 27. To get the kids exciting about camping, visit Ranger Rick’s Campzone.

Tip #2 Engage the Senses

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study found that kids spend, on average, more than six hours per day with electronic media. The antidote for gamer’s eye and texter’s thumb is right outside the door, where neighborhood nature offers sights, sounds—even smells—to engage and recharge all of a child’s senses.

Tip #3 Go On a Treasure Hunt

Ever try letterboxing or its high-tech counterpart, geocaching? These family-friendly activities are a great way to have fun together outdoors, get some exercise, and work on skills such as problem solving, map reading, and math.

Tip #4: Enjoy the Simple Pleasures

Sometimes the simplest outdoor activities leave the most lasting memories for kids. Remember how to skip a stone, make a daisy chain, or blow a grass whistle?

These easy games could be making your child happier, too. Research by Cornell University environmental psychologist Nancy Wells shows that children with more exposure to nature have reduced stress levels and longer attention spans.

Tip #5: Walk This Way

The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services recommends one hour a day of physical activity for children. Make a walk part of your family’s routine! You can play a nature scavenger hunt (pdf) to keep it fun.

To find a walking trail near you, plug your zipcode into this NWF database of parks, trails and other outdoor destinations.

Click here for more tips.

Source: thedailygreen.com | June 25, 2009
by National Wildlife Federation

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