These days, technology has provided our children with a multitude of electronic games and gadgets which, while ideal entertainment for winter and rainy days, can discourage children from the good old fashioned art of simply playing outside. 

This is a real shame because it almost seems as though today’s children are losing touch with the simple delights of being out in the fresh air.  Encouraging your children to play in your garden, or taking them to a local park, is the perfect way to stimulate their imaginations and get them exercising at the same time – no matter the weather.  

Exercising through play helps your children’s muscle development and can improve co-ordination and motor skills.  Teaching your child to ride a bicycle or scooter is brilliant for their balance and also gives them confidence.  There are so many ways children can benefit from playing outside.

Outdoor play can be a great learning tool.  Ideas for imaginative learning based play include gathering materials to use for a mini garden or collage, giving each child a matchbox and letting them fill it with as many small things as they can find (which you can examine together).More traditional games like I spy, hide and seek or fly are great for kids at any age. For younger children there are many ways to encourage them to learn such as trying to find something of a particular colour, or using outdoor items such as leaves to help them with counting and numbers.  

Use your time outside to go deeper into something your children might be learning about in school, such as wildlife: for example you could spot and identify wild birds, insects or animals. To help children with their alphabet and language skills why not pick a letter of the alphabet and challenge them to spot things beginning with that letter. Backyard camping is a great way to get to know the wildlife that visits your own garden.

If you live near, or can travel to, a beach there are so many things to do and see, from watching tiny crabs and other life in rock pools to collecting shells and pebbles and constructing sand castles.  A beach is a completely different world for children to explore and most children love spending time there.  Just remember to apply sun cream and take plenty of water to drink, particularly on hotter days.

Try this: Beach Scavenger Hunt with free printable

Even if you don’t have a garden of your own, there are plenty of parks you can take your children to, many with play equipment such as slides and swings available, and you could even make a day of it with a group of mums and their children.  Playing with other children in the park is not only good for social skills but it’s a free day out. Click here for a list of essentials you should take to the park with you.

So what are you waiting for?  Don’t let the cooler weather stand in your way – get out there and start exploring the great outdoors with your children.

More ways to enjoy playing outside:

Image: Getty