We talk about balance, How do we balance screen time with Green Time?In our modern day, a lot of children's play is being plugged in to screens but tuned out of nature, how will this effect our children in the long term? We all love Technology, watching a good movie together as a family, playing a video game, checking in with social media but we all know how it effects us when we over use it and this kind of entertainment comes with its negatives. We become irritable, tired, insular and over use encourages us to have short attention spans. This is just how it starts...
How much "screen time" is too much?The National Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that for good health and development:
- Children younger than 2 years of age should not spend any time watching television or using other electronic media (DVDs, computer and other electronic games) and for children 2 to 5 years of age these activities should be limited to less than one hour per day.
- Children 5 to 12 years of age shouldn't spend more than two hours a day using electronic media for entertainment (e.g. computer games, TV, internet), particularly during daylight hours.
So What Is So Good About Nature Play?Nature is important to children’s development in every major way—intellectually, emotionally, socially, spiritually and physically! Children who spend more time in Nature are more likely to understand and care for their natural surroundings in the long term and after all this is a most important job as our children are the next care takers of our Earth!
- Nature offers a diverse display of colors, sights and sounds; uncertainty; multisensory qualities; and above all, aliveness. Nature is usually in a state of flux, which fosters problem-solving opportunities that build self-confidence.
- Play in nature is unlimited in its potential to utilize children's imagination.
- Play in nature gives children the opportunity to learn more about their own bodies capacities and limitations
- Time in nature is known to reduce stress among children.
- Nature play is active, uses up energy and encourages an active mind
- Children who grow their own plants and food are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables. They are also more likely to continue healthy eating habits throughout their lives
So how do we help our children to foster a connection with nature?
Here are our top 5 ideas for free nature play -
Allow regular non structured play in Nature, this could be in your own backyard or a park, you will be amazed with what adventures children come up with when in nature!
Plant a garden, gardens are full of educational value, plant some herbs or flowers and encourage your children to care for them, Talk about the whole process from seed to flower.
Use nature in your arts and craft, gather sticks, leaves, flowers and pebbles and use these natural objects to create beautiful artworks to hang in your child's bedroom.
Explore your natural surroundings and find the little creatures, ants, bugs, spiders, birds, see what your child is interested in, they are really quite fascinating!
Go on Bike rides or bush walks together as a family, this activity will promote quality family time, promote a active energy burning lifestyle and encourages a understanding of natural surroundings
Water play is a full sensory experience, get to the creek, the beach, backyard pool or if you cant find any of these just fill up a tub of water and fill the tub with cups and jugs!