The more time children spend outdoors, the more their childhoods will be filled with movement and memories. Spending time outdoors allows children to explore their creativity, escape our world’s digital reality, and engage with nature. Our friends at 1000 Hours Outside suggest kids should spend at least, you guessed it, 1000 hours outside per year.
While this many hours may seem intimidating for families, spending this much outdoor time is actually very doable, considering the average amount of time kids spend on digital devices far exceeds 1000 hours per year. Is your family up for the 1000 Hours Outside challenge? Here are a few ways you and your children can get started!
Start With a Hike
One of the best ways you can spend hours outside is by taking a hike! Taking a hike allows you to become surrounded by the great outdoors, where there are no temptations of technology.
Going on a hike can be as simple as walking in a park, around your neighborhood, in the woods, or on a walking trail. Consider choosing a scenic area, such as a path along a river, so that your walk will easily capture your child’s attention and help lengthen your time outside. You will find it is pretty easy to spend a lot of time hiking. After all, being in the middle of nature forces you to finish your walk in order to get home, so you can’t just quit halfway through.
Take it little by little, and your family will spend 1000 hours outside before you know it!
Give Children Time
While sometimes you may feel that your child is spending a lot of time doing nothing outside, all they are doing is soaking life in. So let them! Follow their lead. If your child has been chasing around a butterfly for the past half hour, let them run! If your child wants to spend an hour throwing stones in a river or building a wall out of sticks, let them play! And if your child insists on lying on the ground and watching the ants, let them observe! Kids need time to explore.
Allow them to take their time enjoying the activities they find interesting. After a while, they’ll develop a deeper appreciation of nature, and it will seem easier to reach the goal of spending 1000 hours outside.
Plan Weather-Appropriate Activities
Your child can enjoy the outdoors all year round, which is great for getting lots of outside hours in. But one major deterrent to spending lots of time outside is discomfort. To ensure your child is comfortable outside, make sure you’re planning outdoor activities that are suitable for the weather.
If there is bad weather ahead, you may want to save the outdoor activities for another day. If it is hot and humid outside, consider taking your children to a place with water, such as a pool, lake, or splash pad. If it is snowing, sometimes your own backyard is the best place to be, so you don’t have to drive.
It’s also crucial that your family is dressed for the weather. In the summer, make sure your child is prepared with shorts, T-shirts, swimsuits, and lots of sunscreen! In the winter, make sure your child wears a warm coat, hat, mittens, boots, and snow pants when playing outside. As long as you consider the season, temperature, and your choice of clothing before going outside, your family can work towards spending 1000 hours outside all year round!
Pack Extra Food, Water, and a Change of Clothing
Nothing will end your outdoor adventure quicker than running out of food or water. If your family is headed somewhere beyond your backyard, make sure you pack enough food and beverages to keep your bodies nourished and hydrated. Consider stocking your car with a small cooler of extra water bottles, or a small box of snacks for backup.
It can also be a good idea to keep some spare clothes in the car, in case of accidents, spills, or weather changes. Pack a small bag that includes an extra pair of socks, underwear, a T-shirt, a sweatshirt, hats, mittens, and even an extra pair of shoes or sandals for your child. Having a towel or two on hand can be helpful as well.
While it may seem like you are overpacking, it is always good to be prepared so your family can continue spending time outside.
Take Your Inside Activities Outside!
Life is busy, and it can be easy to find excuses for not going outside. But when the weather allows, try moving your inside activities outside! Eating dinner? Instead of eating indoors, have a family picnic in your backyard or on your patio! Beautiful weather? Let your child do their homework outside! Family game night? Try finding an outdoor game your family can enjoy instead!
There are many opportunities to get outside throughout the day, so make sure your family is taking advantage of these! Even the simplest outdoor activities can help count to your 1000 hours outside.
At Kinderberry Hill, we believe it is so important for kids to get outside and engage with nature that we incorporate outdoor learning into our everyday schedules. Each Kinderberry Hill has its own unique and special outdoor classroom which allows children to have safe, ready-made access to outdoor learning spaces. Our outdoor classrooms offer opportunities for exploration, discovery, collaboration, and wonder! To learn more about Kinderberry Hill’s Nature Explore Certified Outdoor Classrooms, click the link below.
Explore Our Outdoor Classrooms