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Designing a Space to Encourage Outdoor Play

by Jessica Amey

How often do you get outside with your little one to play? More importantly, do you make the most of your own garden or yard? Sometimes it’s easy to forget what you have literally on your doorstep, particularly when you’re not a real fan of gardening. But with a bit of time and a few simple changes, you could create an outdoor space your kids will love.

The Benefits of Outdoor Play

Let’s be honest, one of the biggest advantages of having an outdoor space at home that is the fact you don’t have to stray far to entertain them. Some of the best weekends are those spent simply enjoying your surroundings. And when it comes to play dates, it’s a real plus to be able to host in your own garden. There is an abundance of benefits for children who engage regularly in outdoor play too. It can help their motor development, build confidence and provides health advantages.

Here are just some of the research-backed reasons to ensure children regularly play outdoors:

  • It can help children’s eyesight. The risk of nearsightedness reduces by two thirds in children who spend 14 hours or more outdoors each week
  • Activity helps to reduce the risk of obesity in childhood and later in life
  • Time spent around nature can help to reduce stress in children
  • Babies sleep better at night when they enjoy time outdoors during the day as it helps to set their circadian rhythm
  • Helps prevent Vitamin D deficiency

Designing A Setup for All Seasons

For the whole family to get the most out of your yard or garden all year round, it’s important to add features that will make it suitable for use during all seasons. We can shy away from heading outside when it’s a little colder, but by building in some overhead cover, you are far more likely to enjoy time outdoors whatever the weather. Covering can be useful when it’s rainy or hot and sunny, allowing you to spend more time outdoors rather than retreating inside.

You could think about investing in a Wendy House or something even simpler such as a retractable yard cover or modern bi-fold doors have risen in popularity because of the convenience they offer. You can watch older kids play outside while you’re indoors and it’s easy for you and little ones to pop in and out if the weather drastically turns. Don’t forget to protect toys and garden features from the elements too – many garden toys come with their own covers or can be folded down and stored away safely.

Kid-Friendly Feature Ideas

When you think of garden features for kids, your mind may turn to things like swings, slides, tree houses or even a combined outside activity frame. However, the best possible feature your space can offer is somewhere kids can run around. If you’ve got a yard rather than a garden, this may mean you want to consider installing ground coverings. Many homeowners are now choosing to fit artificial lawn areas or you can purchase moveable play tiles that provide cushioning.

Nature itself can be a real point of fascination for children learning about the world around them. One easy-to-create kid-friendly feature is a wild area, which can encourage plants to grow and insects and animals to visit. This, in turn, allows for all kinds of activities such as butterfly or bird spotting, or bug or flower identification. And if your little ones love nothing better than getting their hands dirty in the mud, why not start your own fruit and vegetable patch? Getting kids into gardening young can encourage an interest in staying active and eating healthily too. Plant into pots and you can set up a growing garden on a compact patio area.

Looking to invest in a few key pieces to keep your kids entertained? Perhaps you’d like to have a go at building some play areas in the garden yourself? Sand and water tables help to encourage sensory play and few toddlers can resist a mud kitchen! If you’ve got slightly older children – games equipment such as goal posts or basketball nets can provide a great way for them to practice school sports or to let off steam.

Are you getting your outdoor space ready for summer? What would be your dream addition to your garden or yard to encourage little ones to play? Would your child love their own mud kitchen or prefer to get dirty digging their own vegetable patch?

‘Contributed Post’

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