Can your grandchild come out to play?
BY SUSAN ADCOX
Most grandparents agree: children need to be outdoors, maybe now more than ever, as forces are conspiring to keep them inside. One study found children spend only 4-7 minutes a day in unstructured outdoor play, versus more than seven hours a day on electronic media.
Research shows children who engage in active outdoor play are less likely to be obese or to suffer from Vitamin D deficiency. They are likely to sleep better and may have better eyesight due to using their distance vision. Being outdoors also has psychological perks and benefits for children with special challenges such as ADHD. Two studies showed that children concentrate better after playing in natural spaces. Experts recommend at least an hour of outdoor time a day. It’s time for Grandma to step in and help out.
If outdoor play is vital why aren’t parents on board? They may be, intellectually at least. But, most parents want their children supervised when they play outside. Yes, children playing outside can get bee stings, poison ivy, or sunburn. But a child playing indoors will never catch a crawfish, find a bird’s nest, or roll down a grassy hill.
That’s where grandparents come in. Supervise the grandchildren? That’s our specialty!
Consider the possibilities:
- Visit every park and playground in your city or area.
- Find a splash park for summer fun.
- Introduce the grandchildren to vintage games like croquet.
- Buy balls of all sizes and varieties.
- Go on nature walks.
- Buy scooters for the grandkids.
- Plant a vegetable garden.
Although children are clearly spending more time on electronic amusements, restricting use isn’t the only answer, although it may be part of it. A better solution is to look for ways to bring technology and the outdoors together. Geocaching and Pokemon Go use technology while promoting outdoor activity. Outdoor photography is another great hobby that blends the two.
Grandparents benefit from more time outdoors, too. We can fill our need for nature and get our grandchild fix at the same time. It’s a prescription for happiness!
….More Ideas for Outdoor Fun From Susan Adcox and The Spruce
About the Author
Susan Adcox is the Grandparents Expert on About.com and the author of Stories From My Grandparent: A Heirloom Journal for Your Grandchild. A former teacher, she has seven grandchildren.