5 Benefits of Nature Time For Children
When the kids are bouncing off the furniture, climbing the walls, and invading your personal space - there is an easy solution to get them to chill out, and to calm your own mind as well.
Just take them outside for some nature time, exercise, fresh air, sunlight, and the freedom to explore.
I’m a mother of three boys, and each one of them, while totally unique in personality and far apart in ages, has lots of energy and a strong need for outdoor freedom and play.
One of my favorite activities with my children is to explore outside through spending time together in nature.
We love to walk, hike, and go on adventures together to forests, beaches, trails, and parks.
There are so many benefits to being in nature for all ages, but it’s especially important for child development to be outside, getting sunlight, breathing fresh air, and learning about the natural world around them.
Not only does getting outside thrill them, it boosts my own mood and wellbeing as well.
Even just a half-an-hour walk or an hour at a park, makes us all happier, healthier, and more pleasant to be around.
Kids don’t need toys, fancy gear, or extracurricular classes, as much as they need to get outside and be kids.
Getting out in nature helps us all to learn more about our own inner nature.
5 Benefits of Nature Time For Kids
Being outside in nature provides a multitude of benefits by stimulating all of the senses of the body through play and movement. There is so much to see, touch, smell, hear, and even taste when exploring outside.
A walk outdoors can provide your child (and you too!) with the opportunity to feel a warm breeze on your skin, smell the scent of the warm earth after a rain, taste fresh blackberries or wild strawberries, touch the fuzzy leaves of mullein or the water of a flowing river, and see the patterns of light moving through the leaves of a tree.
With all the temptations and distractions of technological devices today, the best remedy for too much screen-time is nature. While video games, iPads, and TV shows are fun, it can’t beat the beauty and wonder of a waterfall, ocean, or even a neighborhood playground.
The best way to get kids off off their devices, is to get them outside and leave the tech toys at home.
Getting outside during the daytime helps kids (and adults!) to sleep better at night.
Especially if you go outside during the morning hours when there is a higher blue frequency to the light spectrum. This activates our biological rhythms to wake us up in the morning time, and then causes our body to get more tired at nighttime, thus enhancing sleep quality and preventing insomnia.
Exercise is important for it increases physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Getting outdoors for fitness and play is so wonderful because it provides a myriad of opportunities for natural movement inspired by nature.
Outside kids can run around, climb up trees, balance on logs, jump over obstacles, parkour from rocks, and every thing in nature is slightly different in shape and size providing variations that develop natural movement skills.
Also, a healthy dose of exercise each day helps to tire out kids so they rest better at night.
Don’t want your kids bouncing off the walls in the evening asking for one more story, another glass of water, and suddenly turning into deep philosophers asking you a million questions about the meaning of life, the universe, and everything under the Sun? Then take them outside each day so that they can run.
Learning About Nature
There is so much to learn about in the natural world. As homeschoolers, we spend a lot of time exploring new trails, nature centers, conservation parks, and places in nature. It’s amazing to see how just going places and being outside stimulates incredible conversations and discussions about the natural world around us, how it works, and what it’s all about.
While hiking and exploring, my 7 year old will ask a zillion questions about plants, trees, flowers, herbs, wildlife, birds, frogs, reptiles, insects, seasons, geology, geography, water, rivers, and SO much more! It’s amazing how a simple hike can provide so many opportunities for learning and ideas for new topics to research deeper when you get home.
Being out in nature and seeing the natural world also creates a personal relationship with it and strengthens the passion for knowledge that just reading a book or watching a video can’t create. For example, watching a video about turtles is neat, but helping a real life turtle cross a road can inspire so much more interest and feeling of wanting to know about what kind of turtle that was, where was it going, where does it live, how long does it live, what does it eat, does it hibernate, and so much more.
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Tips for Nature Time with Kids
It’s really important to be prepared for the weather, have water and snacks, and what you need to make being outside a fun adventure with your kids. I find the better I plan what to back and bring with us, the more fun we have, and the longer that we are able to extend our time in nature exploring.
A Good Stroller
We absolutely love the B.O.B Revolution Flex 3.0 Stroller for getting outside with our toddler.
It’s really helpful to have a jogging stroller for going on bigger adventures with younger children. My 7 year old can handle longer hikes than the 2 year old, so the stroller means that we can all explore more and bring along extra gear.
While my 2 year old also loves to walk, hike, and run, but on long trails he will get tired, and it’s so much easier to push him in a stroller than to carry him. Plus, he loves to go fast and to enjoy the view.
Strollers are best for nature adventures on wide and smooth trails, but the B.O.B. Flex 3.0 handles smooth over rocks, roots, and bumpy trails with it’s suspension system easing the jolting on your toddler.
It’s really easy to adjust the height and position of the handlebar quickly, so different family members can easiely take turns trading off pushing, and it glides along smoother than any other stroller I’ve had.
The B.O.B. stroller rides smooth because it has inflated mountain bike style tires and suspension. It has a secure front wheel that can make tight turns, or can be easily locked into forward-only position for stability when jogging or on bumpy paths.
I’ve used lots of strollers over the years, and the B.O.B. 3.0 is my favorite, I love the enhanced comfort design of the padding for the child. Also, I’ve had bouts of tendonitis in both wrists over the past 20 years due to my previous career as a massage therapist, and the B.O.B. is the easiest on my sensitive hands, wrists, and arms to push, which I LOVE, while also still having an emergency wrist strap (important!).
For the best experience in nature, it’s helpful to have the right gear. I love our B.O.B. stroller which also has a big storage area underneath to bring along all of the extra bags, water bottles, and gear we want, as well as to store our nature finds. snacks, water, bug repellant, a blanket, and a phone (I recommend putting it on airplane mode and cherish the time with your kids, especially if you put it in a stroller pocket. However, it’s great to have for emergency use and nature is a great place to take photos of your kids you will cherish forever!).
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Granola bars, apples, and trail mix are all great choices for needed energy boosts. If you children have any health issues or needs, be sure to bring extra snacks and supplies to accommodate their needs.
There have been times on hikes when my older son has literally sat down on the trail in sudden exhaustion refusing to walk any further, but after eating a snack has regained energy to continue onward. It’s amazing how those little bodies can get SO hungry SO quickly, and how a healthy snack can completely save the day.
It’s easy to get dehydrated outdoors, especially when having fun and working up a sweat, and water is the most common thing requested by littles on our hikes. We make sure that each kid has their own reusable water bottle, and they LOVE them. Staying hydrated is so vital to avoid heat exhaustion, crankiness, and hunger pains. Plus, it teaches healthy drinking habits.
I find that kids who may prefer the flavors of juice, milk, smoothies or teas at home are perfectly happy to chug plain water when out on the trails, and creating healthy habits of drinking LOTS of water each day is one of the best things we can do to support our kids daily wellness.
Charge Your Phone & Turn it on Airplane Mode:
When hiking with children (or even by yourself) I highly recommend bringing a cell phone with you and making sure it’s got a full charge for emergency purposes.
However, for the optimal nature experience, I recommend putting it on airplane mode and cherish the time with your kids, especially if you put it in a stroller pocket or anywhere near your children’s bodies.
Not only is having a phone an important safety precaution, but being out in nature is a great place to take gorgeous photos of your kids that you will cherish forever!
We also often bring along an extra blanket for putting down on the ground or grass to have a rest or picnic, as well as extra clothes or layers in case the kids get wet, dirty, or cold.
Also, depending on the season, natural insect repellant can save the day so you are not running down the trail back to your car away from swarms of ninja mosquitos (I’ve been there).
Plus, depending on your children’s interests, you might want to consider extra learning or play tools such as binoculars, a nature journal, shovels, nature identification books, or more.
Most of all, remember to have fun! And go new places!
This post is sponsored by B.O.B. Gear. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting our partners and keeping independent media thriving!