Is it a sign of the times or are parents too scared to let their kids play outside?
As a child, I remember spending most of my time playing outside whenever the weather was reasonable enough to. We didn't have a trampoline, goal posts etc, but somehow we managed to occupy ourselves. My sister and I played in the back garden or went round to our friends to see if they could come out to play. We would be off on our bikes and come home when we were hungry. If there were lots of us, we would play rounders in the school field that was near our house.
So what is stopping children playing outside? Here are some of my thoughts:
- Parents are fearful of what might happen to their children. They are exposed to more stories through the media about child abductions etc.
- More cars on the road than before.
- Fear of bullying and peer pressure.
- Too many after-school activities / clubs for children, thus leaving no time to play.
- X-box, Playstation, Wii appear far more interesting to children than playing outside.
- More children's T.V channels that are on all day (we only had 3 channels, with just a few hours of kids programmes).
- Children not needed to think imaginatively or creatively because they have a lot more games and toys, that are replaced regularly.
- Many new houses are being built with smaller back gardens.
- More children are going to schools that are out of their catchment area. Therefore their friends don't live within walking distance.
- Bad weather!
Far too many children seem to spend their time playing indoors. I find my own children would rather play in the house than play in the garden. I have to make a conscious effort to tell my children to play a game in the garden. This is usually followed by 'Do we have to?' and then a rather grumpy 'YES!' from me. We are making progress through. In making my children play outside, when the weather is good, they are started to get used to it. Are they playing the imaginative, sometimes made up games my sister and I used to play? Not yet! But I'm working on it.
My Top Ten Outdoor Games for Kids
Might sound a bit old fashioned, but still fun.
- Creating Your Own Obstacle Course or Circuit Training.
Kids can use anything they want to for this, including indoor equipment: skipping ropes, hula hoops, stools, balls, beanbags (or anything to run in and out of in a figure of 8, football training style, e.g jumpers, socks...). Activities can be dotted around the garden (you can call them stations). Circuit training example: station 1 - star jumps, station 2 - hula hoop practise, station 3 - step on, step off stool 10 times, station 4 - how far can you jump? etc.
- Fox and Rabbit Game.
One child is the rabbit, they will need a ribbon or handkerchief to tuck into the back of their trousers. The other child / children chases the rabbit. If they manage to take the rabbits tail, they have won. A new rabbit can then be chosen.
- Grandma's Footsteps. Someone is grandma and turns their back to the other children. The children have to creep up to grandma. Every so often, the grandma will turn around and the children have to freeze like statues. The first child to get to grandma and tap her on the shoulder wins.
- Painting With Water.
Children are given a paintbrush and a tub of water. They can they use the water to write or draw anything they want to.
Skipping ropes are very cheap to buy and great for encouraging physical activity in kids. Being able to skip will also help improve their co-ordination skills and stamina.
Great if you live in a cul-de-sac, but parental supervision may be required - watch out for cars and pedestrians! You will need a tennis ball. The aim is to stand or sit on one side of the pavement and try to hit the kerb on the other side of the road, with the ball.
- Nature Detectives.
Print out some of these worksheets and see how many of the insects, plants, objects your children can find and identify. You can use them in the garden, or when out on a walk in the park or woods.
Science - Find It
Nature Detectives Sheets - Leaf Identifying / Flower Identifying
- Cops and Robbers. Hide and Seek. Tag.
- Kwik Cricket.
Can be played with a minimum of 2 children! One person bats and runs up and down between two stumps, (scoring runs). The other child bowls, gets the balls and tries to get the batsman out by throwing or touching the ball onto one of the stumps. If the child is in-between stumps, they are out.