Have you met anyone who doesn’t like weekends? Me neither. It’s that part of the week where people take time to unwind, relax and rejuvenate. For me and my family, weekends are that part of the week where we invest quality time in relationship building activities, nurturing friendships, strengthening family ties, revitalizing mind and body and just relishing the goodness of creation and feeling loved. These are usually spent outdoors and in just a while I will be sharing with you four good reasons why you should be giving your kids more time out in nature. Meanwhile, allow me to share with you what our little person’s been up to lately at the farm.
Secret Spaces for Outdoorsy Kids (and Kids at Heart)
This particular weekend our oldest son Luis chose to stay behind at his Grandparents’ as he wasn’t feeling good, and so Anthony and I, together with our outdoorsy son, Jun Edward, headed on to the ranch to see the animals.
Jun Edward, who is just learning to ride a horse on his own, had his favorite steed saddled up and went on border patrol duty. On his way he found four sheep that strayed from the pack. He and Itom led the sheep back to the fold and closed the gate.
They also went to visit the turkey in their new pen. For such a small boy, the enclosure is a gigantic playground with a patch of thick underbrush in the middle where he can crawl under the bushes and pretend it was a tunnel. Anthony and I had a playground like this at his father’s property back when we were in college. No one can tell there was a wide clearing in the middle of the bushes because the entrance was inconspicuously designed. If, in our late teens, we enjoyed that kind of playground, how much more can a six-year-old?
The turkey pen is just one of the spots to visit in the farm. In my previous posts, I mentioned about the endangered Golden-capped Fruit Bats that roost in the area but there is also another special place I nicknamed the Sea of Lotus. It’s a small lake where another group of vulnerable species live – the Philippine Duck, a type of duck endemic to the Philippines and whose population is fast declining. I could not take a photo of these ducks up close since they are a shy type and besides, it’s illegal to catch even one of these creatures as they are protected by law under RA 9147 or the Wildlife Resource Conservation Act. They are also protected in the area as well as hunting is strictly prohibited.
Catching a glimpse of these water birds is another reason for all of us in the family to look forward to weekends.
4 Reasons for You to Take Your Kids Outdoors
Now here are the top four good reasons for you to start taking your kids outdoors now and allow them more time in nature.
No. 1 Children who spend more time outdoors are less likely to be obese. I have to admit that I have actually enjoyed those ready-to-eat breakfasts in easy-open cans, those shove-into-microwave type of snack foods and other junk children love to eat. They may taste good but they are actually making our kids fat. In addition to this horrible diet, there is the sedentary lifestyle. Kids nowadays tend to spend more time indoors with their gadgets.
This is why as much as possible we take them outside to play. This doesn’t mean that we go on with the diet though. An active lifestyle and a healthy choice of food should be sought no matter what. But you know what? I have actually discovered after years of getting my kids to garden that they are more likely to eat the crops they grow with their own hands.
No. 2 Children who are allowed to engage in unstructured play outdoors develop better problem-solving skills, are more focused and self-disciplined.
No. 3 Children who spend more time outside in nature are found to have reduced aggression and increased happiness. In a 2010 article by Jon Henley in theguardian.com he mentioned that these are among the emotional benefits children reap when they are allowed to play outdoors more often.
No. 4 Nature can teach kids things we can’t. In the same article mentioned above, it was said that kids learn not only about the bigger world around them but also about themselves. When left to play on their own, they can actually develop skills we adults can’t simply teach them. For example, climbing a tree or riding a horse can give them valuable lessons and allow them to measure risk for themselves. They may fall, but they get to gain valuable lessons from these experience. We can tell them a million times of the possibilities of falling or describe the pain they will experience, but as we all know, kids are not very good at listening. Developing the ability to measure risk for themselves can come in really handy as they get older and become teenagers – the age when they feel most invincible.