Taking in the view of Cape Town on top of Table mountain ©BlueOrange Studio/Shutterstock

Spending time exploring and playing outdoors has proven benefits for children. It helps them develop physically, teaches them social skills, encourages creativity and fosters independent thinking, as well as the well-documented health benefits of being active. In a world where technology has the potential to dominate our lives, teaching our kids good habits when it comes to getting off the sofa and out into the fresh air is an important part of parenting. So how do you get your kids outdoors?

The expert view

I remember exactly where I was the first time I breathlessly witnessed the expansiveness of the Milky Way, the first time I faced my fear on a Class 4 whitewater rafting trip, the feeling of accomplishment the first time I got the campfire started all by myself. All these experiences live inside me, written in my DNA, in the form of leadership, confidence, and passion.

Now, as a parent, I am acutely aware of the significant role that outdoor exploration and discovery plays in my daughter’s development and happiness. This personal growth can come from activities as simple as a picnic in the park, or as technical as belaying at the local crag, but either way, making the outdoors a priority for your child can benefit them for the rest of their life.

However, with all of the distractions of the modern world vying for our kids’ attention, how can we encourage them to get excited about going outside? Try flipping the script. Take an average dining room table activity, like eating lunch or doing homework, into the great outdoors. Surprise them with a nature journal and let them roam the backyard, solo explorer style, scribbling down field notes. Connect with like-minded families in your community and commit to an outing once a week. And most important, lead by example. Let your own excitement for outdoor fun set the tone, and the kids will surely follow.

– Jennifer Fontaine, of Outdoor Families Magazine

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