by Therese Galea of Outdoor Kids Malta
Do you have a typical 9 to 5 office job which you’re now doing from home? I do, although for me it’s more like 7 to 3. For the past year, I’ve been waking up practically every weekday morning, changing from PJs into lounge wear, washing my face & brushing my teeth, making a cup of coffee and switching on my laptop… then switching it off 8 hours later.
The day is filled with a series of meetings via Microsoft Teams, replying to emails and trying to actually get something done in between. By 2pm, I’m literally itching to get out of the house. Technology exhausts me, and I’m sure there are days when it does the same to you and your children.
Although the Teams software allows us to set meetings and get on with the agenda, it does little to replicate the human interaction usually present before and after meetings. Similarly, while online learning is a necessity which we have learnt to live with, it cannot fully replace the interactive, active classrooms which students are accustomed to.
Having experienced this first-hand for the past year, I’ve come to appreciate the improved well-being of spending time outdoors, and have found that being in touch with nature has had a few positive effects that I hadn’t even considered.
Here are five reasons why kids should spend time outdoors, improving the health and happiness of the whole family!
1. Nature Can Heal
Air, sun, trees, sea. Nature has healing powers, including improving our mood and boosting the immune system. Both adults and kids need this. Take some deep breaths, especially if you’re close to the sea. You’ll instantly feel calmer and more in control of your life.
2. Improves Your Focus
Spending time outdoors, even if for only a 15-30 minutes helps us focus more. Ever had a work/school related problem which you can’t seem to solve? A short walk in nature might help you find the solution, this even more so for children suffering from ADHD. And hey, a nature walk is proven to be more effective for focus than resting outdoors or going for a walk in an urban area.
3. Builds Self-Confidence
Your kids get to explore the outdoor environment first-hand. They’ll get to walk, climb, see different species of flora and fauna. They will also fall, get muddy, get stung by thorns – and that’s ok. They will build self-confidence with every step. You’ll eventually get to hear them chatter excitedly and recount their adventures.
4. Gets Kids Moving
Children are full of energy. Studies suggest that young children should be physically active every day for around 3 hours as this is important for their healthy growth and development. From experience, going on hikes on rough terrain helps to deplete some of their energy. Plus, an earlier bedtime is guaranteed, which also means you get to unwind and enjoy a glass of wine. Hurrah!
5. Makes Us More Content
Psychologists are discovering that exposure to nature helps us disregard societal pressures and stereotypes, whilst helping us value more important things such as family, relationships and community.
Nature can provide countless stimuli and opportunities to learn, and those are just some of the reasons why kids should spend time outdoors. For those parents who opted to home-school this scholastic year, I highly recommend taking schooling outdoors. In nature, kids can experience first-hand sights, smells, sounds and textures. This, in turn, provides opportunities for discovery and creativity.
As the saying goes, not all lessons come from books!
For more great recommendations and inspiration for local outdoor activities, visit the Outdoor Kids Malta Facebook page, or check out Therese Galea’s Facebook and Instagram (@offdisland). You can also browse through our Island Activities section for more great ideas to keep your little ones busy.