Children are spending less time outdoors than they used to, which could be causing them health problems or a lower level of environmental awareness. Several experts call this phenomenon "nature deficit disorder", and propose several playful activities for children and adults to spend more time in a natural environment, even if it is a nearby park. Let's take advantage of the surroundings of our Coruña British International School to get closer to nature.
We don't say so ourselves, but the psychologist and philosopher Heike Freire, author of the book 'Educating in green'. In her opinion, children today are more at risk at home than in nature, she argues that they need a bit of daily "wildness" (getting their hands dirty with mud or climbing a tree) and appeals to parents to support their children's innate tendency for the natural, even right next to the house: listening to the birds, looking at the flowers, investigating, observing, etc.
With this in mind, the National Trust has created the campaign 50 things to do before you are 11 and ¾, which proposes the following outdoor activities that everyone should try before the age of 12:
1. Climb a tree.
2. Tumble around a hill on the ground.
3. Camping in the wilderness.
4. Building a den.
5. Throwing a stone in the water so that it bounces.
6. Running through puddles.
7. Flying a kite.
8. Catching a fish with a net.
9. Eat an apple straight from the tree.
10. Playing "Conkers" (a typical English children's game with chestnuts).
11. Take a long bike ride.
12. Leave your trail using sticks.
13. Make a mud pie.
14. Build a dam in a stream.
15. Playing in the snow.
16. Make a pendant out of daisies.
17. Organise a snail race.
18. Make works of art with elements from nature.
19. Play "Poohsticks" (a popular British game with sticks that are thrown into a river over a bridge, based on the Winnie the Pooh book).
20. Jumping over the waves.
21. Picking blackberries, blueberries, wild gooseberries.
22. Explore the inside of a tree.
23. Visiting a farm.
24. Walking barefoot.
25. Making a trumpet using a simple grass.
26. Search for fossils or remains in the ground.
27. Look at the stars on a summer's night.
28. Climbing a big mountain (it doesn't have to be Everest, of course).
29. Explore a cave.
30. Holding an animal in your hand while it moves.
31. Hunting insects.
32. Finding frog eggs.
33. Picking up dry leaves as they fall.
34. Following animal tracks.
35. Finding out what is in a pond.
36. Making a home for an animal.
37. Take a look at the creatures in a natural pool.
38. Catching a butterfly in flight.
39. Catch a crayfish in the river or on the beach.
40. Go for a night walk in nature.
41. Planting, tending and harvesting its fruits.
42. Go swimming in the sea (we certainly have this one very easy).
43. Build a raft.
44. Go bird-watching in our surroundings.
45. Find your way with a map and compass.
46. Try rock climbing.
47. Cooking on a campfire.
48. Learn to ride a horse.
49. Playing "geocaching" (a treasure hunt with GPS).
50. Canoeing on a river.
Why is it important to play outdoors?
Time spent outdoors has been linked to improved concentration, memory and executive function, i.e. how we learn versus what we learn.
It is undoubtedly up to parents to ensure that our children spend time in natural environments, although our school encourages outdoor learning and outdoor activities. And yes, it is difficult to make the time and make it a habit, but it is necessary to make the effort.
To start with, it's about reclaiming natural public spaces. Playing in gardens, parks and nearby green areas is a good way to bring children into contact with nature. Also, take advantage of the weekends to go on picnics in the countryside, visit farms, Natural Parks, go swimming in a reservoir or river, or go camping in the open air. And of course take advantage of holidays and choose natural destinations, such as the beach or the countryside, teach them to fish, to watch birds, leaves or insects, collect shells or stones on the beach, build sand castles, or even go on nature camps.
Look for opportunities to be outdoors. The air is healthier, the children are calmer, the games are active, curiosity is stimulated... All are benefits! And enjoy!
- Summer activities