Be Out There: Seven Safe Ways For Kids To Have More Outdoor Play Time
Today's parents are concerned about the safety of their children when they are playing outdoors. There is more traffic on the streets and more worries about other harms befalling them such as "stranger danger." While the neighborhood may be very safe — conscientious parents still want some added assurance. Here are some proven Be Out There ways that parents across America are providing safe outdoor play time for kids.
The yard – is still a great place to catch a few minutes outdoors. Even better if a few steps are taking to make it more interesting. Most kids are good about sticking to their own properties. Make the rules clear, tell them not to wander off and let them play awhile.
Play Groups – kids playing outside together are quite safe. In some neighborhoods parents have arranged regular outdoor play times where kids meet and have fun together for an hour or two. The kids love it and so do the parents.
Day care – most child care facilities are required to provide outdoor play space for children but not all of them use it on a regular basis. A reminder to the center from parents about the importance of outdoor time for growing minds and bodies goes a long way.
“Buddy” walks to school – only about one-in-nine kids walks to school these days even if they live within a few blocks. That is down from about half of kids 25 years ago. Parents living fairly close to school can arrange for two or three kids in the neighborhood to meet up and walk to school together. It is good exercise and good companionship.
After school programs – whether that are educational classes or extended day programs, they are another important way for children to get outdoor play time. Friendly parental reminders to teachers and after school staff can help here too.
School recess – kids need an outdoor break during their school day. They need to breathe some fresh air, run around, blow off steam and have fun with one another. In recent years schools have been so focused on statewide test performance that many have cut out recess breaks. Parents can look into this and bring it up as an important opportunity for children to have more outdoor time.
Time for two (or three)– there are many moments each week when a the mom or dad is busy indoors and the kids are planted in front of the television. It doesn't take much to convert these moments into a walk around the block, a visit to a playground or a quick game in the backyard. Parents who look for these opportunities whether a few minutes or an hour will have happier and healthier children.
For more information on ways to get children outdoors and places to enjoy outdoor time vists NWF's Be Out There site.