Spring is here, which means warmer and longer days, and spending time outside is important for your child’s health. It can positively affect a child’s emotional, physical, and mental health all year round. Time outside can be flexible depending on what is safe and available in your community. It could be going to a local park, taking a walk, or even spending an extra 15 minutes at your school’s playground before going home.
Not only are the positive effects of nature something we experience when we spend time outside, but it is well supported by science. Time spent outside has been associated with decreased stress, decreased cardiovascular disease, a decrease in obesity, and even improved birth outcomes. In addition, it’s shown to improve our connection with our community and each other. For kids, a green schoolyard can positively impact academic, physical, and mental outcomes, including ADHD. The benefits of kids being outside are significant!
All ages can also enjoy time outside. For babies, you can take your baby in the stroller on a walk. Going to a grassy park with a blanket is also a great way for them to get some tummy time. For toddlers, being outside is an opportunity for them to learn independence and creativity. They can build nature houses with twigs and leaves, explore crawling/walking on different landscapes, or even have story time in the woods. For older children, time outside can help foster a love of science and community. It is a great place to do science projects and study the natural world. They can also practice their favorite sport with friends. Finally, families with people of all ages can always enjoy a barbeque or picnic outside.
Unfortunately, not all neighborhoods have safe access to safe outdoor spaces. We know that violence can exist outside the doorstep in our community, and many families don’t feel safe in their neighborhoods. Also, there is a lack of green spaces or sidewalks in many neighborhoods.
Several groups in St. Louis are attempting to bridge this gap, including BJC. The Forest Park Forever Program offers many free field trips for schools (including transportation to and from) to their nature playscape. Girltrek and Girls on the Run organize local walks around the community. Many organizations are also working on renovating parks and gardens throughout north St. Louis.
Nature is a fun, exciting place for families and children. So whether at a local park or around the block, we encourage kids to get outside in a safe and active way.