Have you ever noticed how, when you are out in an open space like a park, or as part of a walk, one of the first things your small child wants to do, is let go of your hand and tear off........?  The open space is so exciting and being active is vital for your child's growth and development. However, we as parents almost immediately start to worry.  What if they run out of sight? What if they trip and fall? What if they bump into somebody / something? What if.....?

Young children however need a certain degree of risk in their active play. It helps them assess and manage risk in their later lives. They also need to be active to learn....especially boys. There is evidence to show that children who have been encouraged to move a lot whilst they were young are more likely to be ready for sitting when they go to school.Muddy Wellies

So, if children are managing their own risk, so should we as parents. It may mean that we have to be brave about letting our children 'have a go'... within certain parameters. Certainly -  keep an eye on them, and make sure you know where they are and what they're up to, but in the right environment, let them run a little faster, climb a little higher and dig a little deeper than you would do normally. When children are able to try out new things they develop confidence in themselves.

So..... get out there! If you haven't got a garden attached to your home, try and find a Common, a piece of open land or woodland close by. Lots of outdoor activities are free too!  Walks, treasure hunts, games, playgrounds etc. And don't let the weather stop you. Rain or shine, dress appropriately and perhaps take a small picnic with you (even better if you've packed it together). Being outdoors and doing interesting things will help you all to digest food and encourage everyone to have a good night's sleep. It will make you and your child healthier and stronger.  It will also have the added bonus of soothing parent's frayed nerves on those more challenging days!

I am attaching lots of ideas for you and your children to do outdoors. It is not a limited list, and please let me know if you have been inspired by any of them, or even if you've tried out something different.

Things to do in the garden

  • Create a 'digging' area where your child can just dig in the earth using child-sized tools ( proper ones, not plastic)
  • Make a safe tree swing with your child
  • Create a sand-pit, be creative....It doesn’t have to be bought, you can use an old tyre or a builders 'tuff' spot. Use old containers including pots and pans
  • Use water. Utilise an outside tap, or use old washing up bowls or plastic baby baths and fill with bubbly or coloured water. Add brushes and plastic cups and saucers etc
  • Make mud!
  • Encourage your child to help your with your gardening.  eg Sweeping leaves, collecting rubbish, planting seeds and bulbs, watering  etc  etc....
  • Make dens. A sheet over 2 chairs or clothes airer is all you need
  • If you have a baby, take a blanket out there and enjoy a book or sensory play
  • On a windy day, make streamers and flags out of light plastic bags (with caution) or flimsy fabric tied to sticks.
  • Wear wellies in the rain and enjoy splashing in the puddles.
  • Snow adds an extra dimension of course.... building and digging provide endless play opportunities. Take a small amount of snow indoors for a quick science lesson!
  • Use natural materials like logs, stones and fir cones to build. Most construction toys are made from plastic so it will be a different and a new learning experience.
  • Fill a spray bottle with water or thin watery paint and spray away!
  • Any 'messy play' ( Refer to 'Messy Play Ideas')

Things to do in the park

  • Take some balls or skipping ropes with you
  • Organise a simple game with 'rules', so that your child will begin to understand that some sports need to be 'fair'
  • Play 'listening' games. 'What can you hear?'
  • Make a collection..... leaves, pebbles, small twigs etc
  • Find out the names of some of the plants, birds etc. Count the magpies/black-birds/squirrels........
  • Take a  picnic
  • Let your child take photos. You could make a scrap book on your return
  • Play 'Hide and Seek'

Other Ideas

Go out and........

  • Post a letter
  • Go on a bus or train
  • Visit the library
  • Go to a museum
  • Give your child a small amount of money in a small purse and enjoy a trip to the local shop together to buy 'something special'