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Blog post: Phillip Walter (Fun Outdoors)
Children live in a digital world that is in many ways a million miles away from the experiences of us, their parents. Screen time, and lots of it, is not only the norm but more worryingly it is seen as an expected right and is often a focus for intense negotiations and even conflict. I’m sure we all find ourselves silently (or less silently!) asking why our children don’t just get outside and enjoy some fresh air.
In this blog post, we will explore outdoor play, why it is more important now than ever, and how we can up our game in the garden play equipment department. Choosing activities that will engage our children, enhance their learning, and support development is an essential way to get them active and off that device they love so much…… at least for a little while!
This blog is not an anti-screen message, they do have their place, but rather a call to arms to support our children in obtaining balance in a digital world. This blog is written from the perspective of a teacher with 23 years of classroom experience, a parent of three boys, and a business owner with an idea to sell items designed to offer some alternatives to screens that kids will love.
Firstly – why is outdoor play so important?
There are many studies knockings about that all come to a similar conclusion about why encouraging children to spend time playing outside is so important. To summarise; they state that playing outdoors allows children to develop self-confidence, independence, and self-esteem. They also become aware of limits, boundaries, and challenges in their play which supports them with appropriate risk-taking. Regular outdoor play results in children being more likely to; try new activities, engage with others, solve problems, explore the natural environment, make friends, and show resilience. That’s not to mention all of the other benefits of muscle development, hand-eye coordination, and of course improved mental health.
In other words, there are some key developmental lessons to be learned by our children that can not be replicated through screen time. We, as parents, need to try to provide opportunities for our children to develop these essential skills. This may all seem very scientific and so I also wanted to add into the mix that playing outside is just plain, simple great fun and many activities enable the whole family to get involved.
Secondly – what makes them tick?
So where do we start? Firstly what makes your child tick? What do they enjoy doing, what are their interests? There is no point in buying a sandpit for a child that can’t stand the beach! There are so many options out there to choose from that it is worth stopping and thinking about this question before impulse buying something that won’t be used. Do they like to bounce, jump, scoot, dig, or splash? Or do they prefer to pedal, climb, swing, or slide? The answer to these questions will narrow down your search to items most likely to grab their attention. What do they like to go on at the park or on holiday? There are so many garden-friendly versions of popular play equipment these days. For instance, my boys love the swinging nests at the park but there is always a queue for a short go. Well, why not buy your own for your garden? All children love a good bouncy castle… well guess what? You can now choose from a massive array of garden ones that are cheaper than hiring.
Thirdly – what are my options?
When you are thinking about what to buy consider how you want it to be used. There are some fantastic family garden activities such as table tennis, badminton, and a basketball net that can bring hours of fun to siblings and parents. For younger children, right through to teens if you want to let them outside and watch them go then the tried and tested trampoline or climbing frame is always a winner. If you are looking to allow for creativity and role play then a playhouse or building toys are a winner. Then there are the WOW toys such as the electric ride-on vehicles that will give hours of fun, some even have built-in Bluetooth sound systems and a parental remote to allow for parent-assisted steering! Or you could go with the more traditional pedal and push ride-on vehicles which are always ready to go with no need for charging.
Lastly – take some time and choose wisely.
Whatever you end up choosing do take time before purchasing. We all have toys sitting at home that seemed like a good idea when we bought them! A little time at the choosing stage and getting it right can lead to hours of fun over many years. Think about the age of your child and whether the activity grows with them or will last for any younger siblings. Think about the level of supervision needed – do you have that time to give? Do you need an activity that is for several children? See Saws don’t tend to work with one! Do you want something to bring the family together?
Introducing Fun Outdoors
I am a parent of three boys (7, 12, 14), a secondary teacher with 23 years of experience and I also run Fun Outdoors. Our mission is to source affordable, quality, and fun outdoor play equipment and activities for all ages and stages of childhood development. I believe that by regularly encouraging our children to have fun outdoors we offer them the chance to explore and develop while remaining active, fit, and healthy. We have tried to make Fun Outdoors easy to navigate and understand. The products are sorted by function – scoot, splash, swing, pedal etc so hopefully you can find what you want quickly.
We stock and sell so many amazing products at Fun Outdoors that narrowing it down to just a few is a challenge. But here are three top picks that are firm favourites with children.
Teepee Tent for Kids (£39)
This tent will set your child’s imagination alight while offering them a secret hideaway, letting them play out their magical fantasies, whether it’s rescuing a princess, meeting the aliens in space, going back in time with the dinosaurs or swimming in the deep blue sea. Independent playtime is essential for children’s development of good imagination and this teepee will encourage active play.
Giant Nest Tree Swing (£40)
Always a firm favourite at the park and now you can also have one in your back garden. This round swing is excellent for getting kids out in the garden and playing with friends. It can seat multiple children. This basket swing for the garden provides a great spot to relax, listen to music, read a book and of course, have hours of fun swinging around. This outdoor swing is resilient to all types of weather conditions to look fresh for years.
Pedal Go-Kart (£110)
Children love go-karts and we have a great selection. This model is easy to control whether it’s going forward, reversing, or stopping.
It includes a BFR system, standing for break, freewheel, and reverse.
This kids go kart works well on cement, brick, and asphalt pavements.
No battery is needed this go-kart is always good to go.
Using the pedals, improves leg strength, coordination, and endurance.
(As a gift to the readers of this blog you can use the code HES15 at the checkout to get 15% off of your entire order. This link takes you straight there www.funoutdoors.co.uk/discount/HES15)
If you are interested then please visit us at www.funoutdoors.co.uk and don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter where we have regular product reviews, item recommendations, and exclusive discount codes.
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