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How much outdoor time?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I really believe in outdoor play time, but I struggle to give my 3 year old more than 1 hour/ day on average.  1/2 hour on really icky weather days.  Some days we do special days where we spent tons of time outside, but on a general around-the-house kind of day, it seems strangely difficult. 


How much outdoor time do you give children (at the age when you still need to be outside with them)?  What activities do you do outdoors together?  Our winters are typically cold, wet, and rainy. 

post #2 of 9
It depends, sometimes 1-2 hours a day.
Ds(2yrs)rides his balance bike outside or pushes his tanka truck around. We also go on hikes and on nice days we spend time at the beach because we live in a coastal town.
post #3 of 9

i am a bit radical with this sort of thing. 


i dont really call the park outdoor time for dd. when she was younger we did at least an hour each day. or else seh was in daycare and got outdoor time then.


dd had sensory stuff. and she so enjoyed sensory play. for her the park was not enough. so while we did the park everyday, i tried to get her out hiking at least twice a week. river beach was one of them. she loved the rocks, sand and water and the cable swing. 


dd also liked to climb. not playstuff, but rigorous terrain. we didnt have much of that nearby, so i'd find hills wherever i could. and i'd find parks where she could climb trees. 


when weather was too hot or cold our local grocery store became our 'park'. 


a bit of rain or cold does not stop us though. neither does snow actually. we have been winter campers since dd was little. 


stepping out of the house sometimes we'd just walk to the cafe.


dd hated the trike. we also hung out on our front porch and played on teh side walk. chalks, exercise ball. 

post #4 of 9

just waiting for winter now - once the snow hits, will be great to have more time outside as a family. but most days we are outside until dark. in the spring/summer/fall I engaged the boys a lot in gardening and now my youngest is obsessed with tomatoes, and my eldest loves carrots and peas. this was the first year they really showed an interest but when it hovers around 0 and rainy is our time indoors. colder or milder is good. I found it funny that my father in law commented that our kids are outside all the time...like it was a bad thing!! lol. on damp, rainy days it's always a challenge. we have a decent sized yard for a downtown location, and have a covered deck so that has helped a lot for making outdoor play easy for us

post #5 of 9

We live on a small farm so there is lots to interest my kids outside. Wui build a fenced sandbox for when they were little and inclluded clinbing obstacles, etc. I could work outside and watch what theywere doing. Kids like to have a friend to play with, so sometimes I am that friend. 


I also allowed some playing in the house. Like a big box cut into a fort or castle, with large draw bridge doors. Creates lots of physical activity without being outside. Ya, my house wasn't as neat and picked up but they are only little once. Stuffed animals became part of the game and other items were repurposed into imaginary props. Crawling on hands and knees, standing up and gettin down again, all counts as exercise. 


We went to the playground a lot, several times aweek. ANd I found other playgrounds to go to in other nearby towns.  3 that we regularly spent time at, especially in the winter. 


I add in games like racing to the car as our car is usually parked 75 feet from the house.


Later I added going to a community center to play games with other kids their age-- a day car program is run there and thegym-time game time was open to other members or the public for a fee. THe more kids the merrier. I noticed my kids had better running skills and increased their wind with running games. Now they play soccer to keep up their wind. PErhaps you have a community center too. 


Even in winter, bundle them up and go out to play. Have several snow pants per child and millions of mittens. My kids would go out 2-3 times a day until cold and wet. THen want to go out again later but snow pants were not dry from that morning. 


Physcial activity is very important for a long life of good health. 

post #6 of 9

We have always gotten most of our outdoor time and exercise by living in a walkable neighborhood with public transit.  My son and I commuted together when he was 2-5 years old, taking 2 buses each way, so that was lots of time walking to and waiting at bus stops.  We would look at things both natural and human-made, and sometimes while waiting we played games like Red Light Green Light or danced--for a long time he wanted to act out the story of Cinderella with dancing at the ball. 


His preschool had outdoor recess totaling 2 hours a day (he was there all day while I was at work) and although it was a very tight, urban playground, my son often spoke of natural phenomena they noticed: things fell from the trees, birds and squirrels and bugs were seen, clouds were interesting.  In summer they got to play in water sprinklers.


Since he started kindergarten (now in 3rd grade) we walk to school every morning regardless of weather.  There's always something interesting to see!  His dad walked over to meet him after school until the middle of 2nd grade; now he walks home by himself or with his friend who lives nearby.  A lot of kids stay and play in the schoolyard for up to an hour after school, and my son is among them.  There's a playground, but he usually doesn't go over there, in favor of running around in the lawn and paved area in front of the school.  They play elaborate pretend games, or tag, or have contests to see who's fastest at climbing over the low wall.  Right now they are enjoying Leaftopia, where the custodian put all the autumn leaves into the low part of the yard surrounded by a fence so that they have an ENORMOUS pile of leaves to frolic in.  There's also the Edible Schoolyard garden, where the kids can graze on raspberries and cherry tomatoes in season, and observe the changes in the plants.


He and his dad join some friends at the nearby park after school every Friday for about 2 hours.  They mostly play on the playground but sometimes investigate the forest or creek.  When my son was smaller, we took him to this or the other neighborhood playground about once per weekend for about 2 hours.


For us, a trip to our church, the supermarket, or the public library is a 3/4-mile walk each way, and this becomes an outdoor adventure.  It's mostly built environment, but that means retaining walls to walk on, traffic-crossing buttons to push, pizza-tossers and tailors and hairdressers at work behind their windows, guys repairing wires, and other excitements.  There are seasonal changes in the plants, even though these are domesticated plants in landscaping.  There are birds, squirrels, bugs, cats, and dogs.  There are other people to observe, sometimes friends to greet.  I feel like we live on Sesame Street. :)

post #7 of 9

I send my three year old outside by himself. I try to do at least 2 hours of outside time a day. 15 Minutes Outside might have some good ideas for baby steps on how to get more outdoor time in your life. Things that have helped us: assigning outside chores (getting mail from the mailbox, taking stuff to the compost, feeding the chickens, and sweeping the steps are chores I assigned to my three year old); responding to misbehavior (especially rambunctiousness or sibling bickering) with sending the children outside; balancing media time with outdoor time; and having outside time as a regular part of our at-home day routine: we almost always go outside before lunch and after naptime.

post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 

revolting - I am interested in how you get your 3-year old to stay outside by himself?  I rarely get to go to the washroom by myself these days without an audience.  And how long will your 3-year old play outside by himself?  Do you have a way of watching him without being with him? Any suggestions would be appreciated

post #9 of 9

Most of where he plays I can see him from one of the windows in my home. If I can't, I just holler for him. If I send him outside, I generally send him outside with a specific activity or chore. I find often that once I get him outside even if initially resistant, he will play happily outside for a while. Unlike my oldest, he always played pretty independently. I truly believe this just has to do with his temperament: my eldest didn't start spending time by herself regularly until she could read a year later. Half an hour stretches of playing by himself are pretty typical. That said, though he probably spends some portion of the day every day outside, he has my and the baby's company and/or his older sister's company the vast majority of that time.

ETA: Here's another good resource for outdoor activity inspiration: http://www.goexplorenature.com/

Edited by revolting - 12/2/13 at 9:41am
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