Fed up with the iPad and the constant pestering to play on it?
Wondering if your tween/teen will ever ‘look up’ from their phones and enjoy the world around them?
Realising that this addiction to so-called smart devices isn’t good for your kids but everyone else does it so how do you resist?
Well this Sunday is a chance to throw off the techie shackles, let your kids go wild outside and learn about how to make it fun, along with thousands of others doing the same. This Sunday, May 11, is National Children’s Day and the organisation behind it is throwing a Go Wild day, to encourage everyone to get their kids off their sofas and into the puddles….or trees or grass.
The reason is simple: children need to connect with nature for their health and well being, yet the current generation of kids are getting far less time interacting with the outdoors than any kids of any previous generation. Gulp. That’s a lot of generations. They’re also suffering in far greater proportions from chronic conditions such as childhood obesity, asthma, and attention-deficit disorder which have all increased over the past few decades. Double Gulp.
The resources they have and the ideas they suggest are imaginative and creative. From a Gift of Wildtime Voucher (free voucher for parents who feel guilty about never playing with their kids outside to print off and give to their child…only for the promise-keepers I reckon) to an App to give you ideas (I know, the irony is rather strong…) to ideas for every family no matter where you live.
Snail racing, leaf snap, and Random Orienteering (choosing a landmark in the distance and working out how to get there without a map or phone) are among my favourites. Or just getting out a map of a local area, sticking a pin in it and attempting to get there as a family in a day which is a brilliant idea.
The Wild City Book by Jo Scofield and Fiona Danks gives you plenty of ideas like this and more, just launched this month, so you could check that out for ideas (great Father’s Day present eh?).
Personally, I love the outdoors and my kids and OH feel similarly, but I know how rubbish I am at letting my kids get down right mucky when we go out. So that’s my challenge. This is, after all, not just about getting them into nature, but unleashing them to enjoy freedom to explore, to experiment, take risks, something that our kids woefully lack in this day and age. So if your child can’t get out doors for whatever reason, maybe let them bake a cake using whatever ingredients they fancy and see what happens! (don’t come to me if the oven explodes, ok?)
This Sunday our school is running a Go Wild Nature Day on Sunday to launch our Wild Area of the playing fields, a Thinking Path (based on Darwin’s own thinking path) and lots of other fantastic small changes to the school’s outdoor space to make it more of a fun, beautiful and educational part of the school. So, although it hardly feels ‘wild’ to spend Sunday afternoon at school, it certainly will be close to nature.
And if you’re wondering if the campaign is run by idealistic hair-shirt wearing hippies, think again. It’s a well balanced campaign in that it recognises the positive side of internet technology and the pragmatic reality that its here to stay twinned with a desire to keep us aware of the dangers of over use, and encouragement with fun ideas of how to bring more balance into our kids’ lives.
Lastly, if you’re wondering how to convey this message to your teenagers, then check out this video called Look Up which might encourage them to spend a little less time with their mobile and a little bit more with people in the flesh. Its a healthy reminder for us parents too who possibly spend a teeny bit too much time glued to a screen ourselves (like now).
So, what are you waiting for? With Persil at the ready, go and let your kids loose, banish the devices and leave them to their own…..
For more about Save Childhood Movement, check out the
rant post I wrote last October about the government’s education plans to reduce learning through play for infants and increase testing, and how Save Childhood Movement are working to educate Gove and his ministers about how damaging and short-sighted those plans are.