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Outdoor play for children as they grow up is so important. Most parents have experienced the struggle to get children out of their bedrooms and into the sunshine (or rain!). A recent report stated that only 21% of children regularly play outside, compared to 71% of their parents, so we’ve come up with some ways you can encourage your children to get outside rather than staying indoors on their PlayStation or iPad.

Being outside has a huge amount of health benefits for children. Playing outside is great for children’s fitness, and running around and exploring is a fun way to encourage children to get the exercise they need. Being outdoors means they can get more vitamin D from sunlight, which is essential for strong bones. Playing outdoors is also great for children’s mental health and wellbeing, allowing them to burn off energy, get creative and play with friends.

Here we explore 6 different outdoor play for children ideas.

1. Go on a nature walk

For something educational as well as active, take your child on a nature walk. Encourage them to look for bugs and beetles, notice what plants are growing and see if they can see any footprints from different animals. This is a great way to encourage children’s curiosity and connection with the natural world and they’ll enjoy it too! If there’s a woodland, lake or beach nearby, encourage your children to look at what different creatures live in different habitats and how they are adapted to where they live.

All those hours exploring the great outdoors made me more resilient and confident.

— David Suzuki - Academic

2. Go for a family bike ride

Riding a bicycle is great exercise for both you and your child. It’s a really useful skill for children to master and it gives them a sense of independence too. There are loads of great bicycle trails around the country, some with cafes and pubs for a lunch stop too. Make a whole day out of it, spend time chatting with your children and exploring the countryside together.

3. Build a fort

It doesn’t have to be the greatest fort ever made, but getting outside and building a den or hideout is a really fun way to get your children to play outside. Keep hold of empty cardboard boxes, plastic bottles and containers in a box of fort supplies (you know you want one) so your child can learn about recycling too. Head to the woods or give them a corner of the garden and let them spend the day building and problem-solving in the sun.

4. Hold your own sports day

If your child loves sports day, then take a day to try and recreate it in your back garden. Invite some of your children’s friends over and set up the garden for events like an egg and spoon race, three-legged race, sack race (use pillowcases) and simple running races. Get some cheap medals and give them all sports bottles so they feel like real athletes!

5. Join a kid’s sports class

If there’s a sport your child enjoys, why not sign them up for a regular class where they can get expert coaching and play with children in their age range. At The Little Foxes Club we offer a range of classes in sports like football, rugby and tennis that are structured so that your children get the exercise they need as well as the skills to progress in their sport. If your child loves playing FIFA, encourage them to play the real thing and get outside and active in a supportive, structured environment.

Team sports are also great. It helps with their social skills and discipline. Being part of a team is great for children’s confidence and relationships with their peers as well.

6. Play some old-fashioned outdoor games

Hopscotch, skipping, Simon Says… those games you used to play as a child? Teach them to your child! Give them some chalk, invite some friends round and have a fun day playing outside the old-fashioned way. You’ll be surprised how much fun you have, and your child too, of course, playing traditional outdoor games. It’s also cheap and easy to organise and it’s a great way to bond with your child too.