Our children spend a lot of time indoors. Between the time spent sitting at school, doing homework, attending extra-curricular classes and scheduled screen time, there is no time left for the children to spend outdoors. Infact, even we as adults hardly spend any time outside preferring indoor spaces for recreation or even exercise.
We parents prefer scheduling kids to various classes rather than free play outside because of various reasons like unsafe neighbourhoods, focus on learning outcomes, lack of outdoor places availability, fear of germs, etc. But there are important benefits that our children are missing out on –
Rian hugging the tree he climbed (:
- Fresh Air & Sunshine – Sunshine helps to regulate our body clock which results in better sleep cycles. Vitamin D is especially important for the bones and immunity of growing children. Being in bright sunlight also reduces nearsightedness. This study even shows sunlight exposure might be linked with better learning. Learn more here https://www.parentingscience.com/kids-need-daylight.html
- Sensory Learning – Children are learning through all their sesnses and Nature Play provides one of the best sensory experience. When children are digging in the mud they are not only touching it with their hands but smelling the dirt while listening to the different sounds of nature.
- Physical Exercise – As per the guidelines by National Health Service, UK, children need at least 60 mins of moderate physical activity everyday. Not only it develops their muscles and bones but also it reduces the risk of developing obesity, heart diseases and type 2 diabetes. Learn more here https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/physical-activity-guidelines-children-under-five-years/
- Risky Play – When left to their own devices, children naturally tend to take risks and push their limits. It helps them to become aware of their own bodies and capabilities. They also develop the ability to access risks and face consequences of their actions.
- Link to Nature – Only if children are allowed to be in contact with nature will they develop a personal relationship and appreciation for the environment. In his book ‘Last child in the woods’ author Richard Louv coined the term ‘Nature Deficit disorder’ to describe the cost of alienation from Nature. You can read more about it here – https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_protect_kids_from_nature_deficit_disorder
Various Stages of decomposition of Indian Almond Nut
We have a few suggestions on activities you can do with your child.
- Nature Hunt
- Observe changes in the Seasons
- Listen to the sounds of nature
- Nature Art or painting with Nature objects
Children exploring an insect at Mahim Nature Park during Savi Montessori Field Trip Parents at Mahim Nature Park during Savi Montessori Field Trip
As more and more parents are starting to realise the importance of outdoor nature play there are many movements to encourage us. The #1000hoursoutside movement aims for children to spend 1000 hours outside in a year. LYPMumbai is a Community organisation to make public open spaces accessible to everyone in Mumbai. They have organised various free workshops, events and classes in Parks across the city.
Here is a list of a few Open areas in Mumbai where you can take your children-
- Mahim Nature Park
- Sanjay Gandhi National Park
- Hiranandani Gardens, Powai
- Bhakti Park Garden, Wadala
Do you know of any Open areas or Parks in or around Mumbai which are a must visit with our children? Do let us know in the comments.