OK for some it may be a black & white memory, but even without the rose-tinted glasses we can cherish the large chunk of our childhoods that was spent in the open air simply soaking up the elements. We can't forget all that timeless freedom; all that independence? Well those basic desires and needs exist in our own children. Today.
Yes, maybe more than ever before, children need an opportunity to stretch their wings and venture securely into the big wide world. With parents harbouring growing fears over traffic and 'stranger danger', along with the worry of the influence from other young people, children are spending a vast amount of time indoors. This, in turn, is having a significant negative effect on their health and fitness. To tackle this growing trend of poor health and obesity and stop it escalating, is to address the issues affecting outdoor play both at home and at school.
Outdoor Play at School:
Creating a Landscape:
It's a well-documented fact that when the landscape of play areas within schools is developed, children become inspired and achieve greater social interaction. A representative group of children can rub shoulders with governing bodies, designing a playground in a series of workshops. This 'team approach' ensures that the school grounds are sculpted into play areas which are both imaginative and practical. If school hours are extended to incorporate after-school clubs, the need for inspirational play areas will be greater than ever. Improving school grounds is very much on the agenda of the DFES, who have piloted a three-year programme called 'School Grounds of the Future'. This is managed by the national organisation, Learning Through Landscapes.
So, What can be done to increase the amount of time that children play outdoors?
Proposals by the Children's Play Council suggest that supervised play provision should be available for children whose parents do not want them playing out without adult supervision. This can be done by:
They can 'Play in the Garden':
Parents can encourage outdoor play by developing their own gardens into a play zone. By acquiring toy equipment for the garden, parents will feel reassured. It was they who chose and pieced together the toys that are in use, and they know exactly where their children are. With fewer suitable areas away from the home for children to play in, there has been a growth in demand for various outdoor toys such as trampolines, swings, slides, treehouses, playhouses and climbing frames. Trampolines, listed as one of the Top Ten Toys this Christmas, are found behind many a garden fence. Other safety issues spring up with these bouncy devices.
Trampoline Safety Advice: