For those who do not know me, I run an Outdoor Occupational Therapy practice. Our core messages centre around increasing time outdoors and healthy development. So if you had said three months ago that I would be writing a blog entitled “Outdoors Online” I would have probably laughed out loud.
Yet here we are amid Covid19 restrictions and we are all more reliant on technology and we are spending more time on screens than ever before. For the role technology is playing in keeping us connected, I am profoundly grateful. However, my increased time online has really strengthened my resolve to continue advocating for increasing time outdoors.
After a day in front of the computer my eyes are sore, my shoulder and back muscles are tense and sore, I feel more tired than usual, my concentration is reduced, I am irritable and it’s hard to focus. There is a lot of change right now, so I am not suggesting that all of the above can be attributed to time on screens. But recently I spent a day at our outdoor office making videos and moving all day. At the end of this day I was feeling happy, excited, energised and I did not feel the emotional exhaustion I experienced after a day in front of screens.
Many of the children I am working with are finding it difficult to engage online, the tech glitches frustrate them, they are emotional and difficult to motivate. Again, not all of this can be attributed to screen use, but when I get them up moving or we do our telehealth session outside, their faces light up, their energy levels increase and they are able to focus a bit better.
So now more than ever, we need to be mindful of encouraging our children to get moving outside as often and for as long as possible. This can be tricky…we have work to do, our children have school tasks to complete, we are all tired and we’ve walked around our neighbourhoods 100 or so times already this month. That is why we have been working hard at Jump Up for Kids to bring you quick, easy ideas for kids to do outdoors (& many of them they can do on their own without your help). It’s our Outdoors Online series and you can download all the tip sheets from www.jumpupoutdoors.com.au (Free resources tab).
Here is a few ideas to get you started:
4 Games to play with neighbours without leaving your yard:
- eye spy with my little eye
- make and throw paper planes
- blow bubbles
4 Things to do with shadows:
- turn on music and dance with your shadow
- stand still while someone draws around your shadow
- make shadow puppets with your hands
- chase your shadow and try to jump on it
As I write this blog, I look out the window to see the most glorious sunset and this alone has lifted my spirits. Outdoor, natural environments are essential to our health and well being and to the healthy development of our children. Even something as simple as looking up at the sky, feeling the grass between your toes or looking at leaves moving in a breeze can improve your health and reduce stress. Make time outdoors a regular part of your family’s routine while we are in isolation and keep it in your routine as things return to normal.
Written by: Madeline Avci, Director Jump Up for Kids April 2020
Madeline Avci is the Director of Jump Up For Kids and is a huge advocate of children balancing their time in front of screens with time playing outside where they ignite all of their senses. At work and through her own children, she sees the joy in children’s eyes as they rise up to meet the challenges that nature provides. Jump Up For Kids brings together over twenty years of Madeline’s experience in Occupational Therapy, teaching and parenting, to offer children and their families a ‘just right’ experience in a world that often feels hurried and stressed.
Jump Up For Kids combines expert knowledge of the demands of the modern world, the education system and child development to provide a service that advocates and promotes a common sense approach to raising children in the modern world.
Jump Up For Kids Occupational Therapists work alongside children, families, educators and industry leaders to help develop and promote the independence and resilience children and young people need to do the things they need to do each day and the things they want to do. Jump Up For Kids strives to maintain outstanding levels of service for our clients and strives to place itself at the forefront of Child Development within the Health, Education and Community Development industries.