The question is not necessarily about ‘How to get your kids outside more’ it’s more about how to get us all outside more with adults leading by example.
Leave the mobile devices at home, pull on your boots, coat, hat and gloves and stride out to explore and enjoy your environment. Breath some fresh air, kick some leaves, snap a stick, climb a tree, jump in a puddle, no matter what your age and engage with nature. If we continue to isolate ourselves from the outdoors the future is uncertain for us all.
With the never-ending technological advancements and availability of electronic devices demanding more and more of our precious time it is no wonder children seeing us with our heads down, focusing on these magic portals, they want to be the same.
Yes, technology has its place and is incredibly useful at times but not all the time. Although I struggle to keep up with all the bells and whistles of modern Smart Phone’s, I find my device invaluable for some things but at other times and particularly when outside, I turn the volume down and focus on the activity and the moment.
Having been a classroom teacher for 25 years I found Forest School and Outdoor Learning about two years ago and have not looked back. Why constrain children inside four walls to learn when there is a big world out there and access to natural areas is within reach of us all, if we want it to be. All my family, my wife and two teenage children now regularly spend time outside involved with our Forest School/Outdoor Learning Project, at least every Saturday in our local community. It helps to bring us together as a family, to work on shared ideas and enjoy our time together as well as encouraging others to do the same. All in the ‘Great Outdoors’ no matter what the weather.
If we take the time to get outside, we will feel better. Our health will benefit, our minds can be freed, if just for a short while, from the constant bombardment of electronic wizardry. In the words of Bernard Kelvin Clive “Take time to smell the roses.”
If the heavens open and the wind is blowing a hoolie is that enough of an excuse to stay inside? No, of course not, it’s an excuse to experience winter weather, feel the cold icy wind on you face, the occasional raindrop running down your neck and be thankful you are able to experience these sensations. The knowledge of a hot drink and a warm up by the fire or radiator on your return home is often enough to make the whole experience worth the effort. It’s exposing ourselves to the contrast of sensations, feelings and experiences that help to build us as individuals and to gain valuable knowledge, skills and understanding of these experiences to help us make informed decisions throughout our lives.
When we are back home warm, dry and comfortable with a hot brew and a slice of cake, (my personal preference) then we can send all our friends an image of our ‘Wild Walk’ and feel happy and contented in the knowledge the experience was worth the effort. The children may be back on their devices but they will remember their time outside. How much of their time on their devices will they remember?
Make the effort, make a difference, your deserve it.
For more information about Getting Outside try:
www. Talking to others in your local area .co.uk
www. Visit a park .com
www. Spend time in the garden .org
The thoughts and ramblings of Mark Clarke, outdoor enthusiast and advocate.