Ever since Ethan Bear was very young he's loved being outside. When he was a few months old we used to go for mammoth walks with him in the buggy taking in the world around him with eyes full of wonder and a happy smile on his face. When Ethan was three months old we went to Cornwall on holiday. Ethan put his toes in the sea for the first time and loved it. He also had a good crawl on the grass outside the cottage we were staying in.
When he learned how to walk and could interact even more with the world he was firmly in love with the outdoor life. It was hard when he went through the phase of being impulsive and having to learn boundaries and about keeping safe by not running into the road but soon he realised that to keep safe he must be aware of limits. Ethan loves pushing himself physically and usually the best environment to do this is outside. All of the children I look after become more vocal and light up when we do activities outside. They love running around together chasing each other, sitting under slides talking and picking flowers on the grass for one another.
During the summer months we are barely inside the house. Why stay inside when there is the local paddling pool and sandpit to explore at Central Park? Or the wooden play park and ducks, geese and swans to feed at Ferry Meadows Country Park? Or the Green Backyard where we can see chickens and rabbits, meet friends for a shared picnic and pick vegetables and fruit? I am blessed to live in an area where there is a wealth of activities for the children to experience all within walking distance. Sometimes people will say we haven't had a summer but my childminder tan and the fact I can count the number of days when we had to stop play because of rain on one hand tell a different story. We often meet up with other families outside during summer and lunch is a bring and share picnic where the children are keen to try new foods and flavours due to the social aspect of eating together. Children end the day tired and very happy.
Even during the winter months we try to get out as much as possible. The children all love playing in the snow and rain and gain a lot from observing what they see, smelling different things and watching animals and people. The recent snow gave a great opportunity for us to build an igloo (or wiggly woo as they called it), make footprints and talk about who's were the biggest and who's were the smallest. The children also loved making snow castles with their buckets and spades. After all this snow play the children loved watching an inuit boy build his first igloo and some polar bears emerging from their snowy den on the computer. Without the practical outdoors element of play I don't think the children would have enjoyed watching the videos so much.
I urge you to get outside whenever you can with your children. Buy good waterproofs ( I picked up a great all in one for Ethan from Mothercare), wellies, snow boots, sturdy shoes they can climb easily in , warm coats, snow suits & hats and there is no reason why you can't get out most days. Often we are the only ones at the play park in winter which is such a shame as (unless its very wet) there is no reason why the children can't have a play. We love to come back and get stuck into warm toast and honey on a chilly day and appreciate it all the more having worked up an appetite first.