From generation to generation, concepts of childhood have changed greatly. Children of the 70s and 80s spent much of their childhood outdoors exploring, playing games and thinking up creative ways to have fun.
The average child of the 21st Century spends about 55 hours a week watching television, playing computer games, texting and browsing the internet. That’s the equivalent of almost eight hours a day.
Even more frightening, preschoolers (ages 2 to 5) spend around 32.5 hours a week in front of the television.
All this time indoors has been proven to affect a child’s mental development. Children now are also more prone to becoming obese and showing signs of ADHD. In some cases, our children are even developing rickets (softening of the bones) due to a lack of vitamin D (of which our main source is the sun).
Conversely, playing outdoors, whether in a local wood, park or back yard (or as our English friends might say, garden), helps children to improve their creativity, build problem-solving skills and learn to become more self-reliant.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to persuade your kids to leave the sofa and embrace the outdoors. However, here are five great ideas for you to try.
Strangely enough, one of the most enjoyable garden toys for children isn’t a toy at all – it’s a tent. While most people associate a tent with going away, kids can have just as much fun with one right in their own back yard.
Treasure hunts are a great way to get kids running around and using their creativity and problem solving skills. You don’t even need any pricey garden toys for children to have fun with this one–a few pieces of card and a pen will do.
Getting your kids to find bugs is a fantastic learning exercise and a great way to get them to become more at-one with nature. Invest in a cheap ‘book of bugs’ so your children can have fun identifying their finds. Again, you don’t need any expensive garden toys–a magnifying glass and a book is all that’s required.
This is something we all did as a child, and even in this era of electronics it’s still fantastic fun. There’s no need to invest in costly garden toys for children like a Wendy house – some used boxes, old sheets and an imagination can create the best fort in the world.
Not all toys have to be expensive. Often the simpler toys are not only cheaper, but will be used for many months longer than that handmade dolls house or G.I. Joe set.
A wading pool, ball and net, or a low-cost swing set will all be loved for months, if not years. If the toys are something you can use as a family, even better.