Did you know that June was “Leave No Child Inside” month? Now that summer has come, it is important for us as parents to recognize the need to get our children away from their technological “devices” and spend some time in the great outdoors.
Extensive research from Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods has shown us that spending time out-of-doors is a necessary component of children’s growth and development. Not only do they get fresh air and exercise, which is important for physical health, but there are positive effects on the brain as well. Being outdoors helps children with ADD/ADHD rewire their brains to be calmer and more focused, and works wonders for all of our children to de-stress and relax.
There are so many ways you can encourage outdoor activities with your children. Your own backyard and neighborhood are wonderful places to play and learn. Even a walk down the block identifying trees by their leaves or noticing the different types of birdsongs you hear is a great way for children to use their analytical skills.
Of, course, the park, pool or beach are all good sources of outdoor spots to play ball, frisbee, swim, and just gaze at the colorful surroundings. Time to daydream and play are some of the best ways for children to synthesize what they see and learn. The Glenview Park District even has a “Get Out and Go” outdoor treasure hunt every year in honor of Leave No Child Inside month!
Did you know that the Chicagoland area has some of the best forest preserves in the country? Take advantage of them by hiking in the woods, having a barbeque or picnic and noticing the lush surroundings that once covered this whole area before it was populated. Imagine you are a Native American living in these woods and what you would find to create a life in them!
And as you take the trails in the forest preserve northward, you will reach the Chicago Botanic Gardens, a place that offers something for everyone in the outdoors. The grounds are meticulously landscaped so that you can enjoy everything from an English Garden, Rose Garden and Japanese Garden to plaques that describe each plant along the way. The colors are magnificent creating a beautiful place to de-stress and enjoy the many opportunities to learn about the plants that grow in our region.
So get up and out with your children this summer, and enjoy all the possibilities of the great outdoors!
P.S. Don’t forget about the Dog Park – your children and dogs will love the freedom of running and playing together there!