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5 parent-child outdoor activities

Spending time outdoors is not just a way to get fresh air; it’s a foundation for lifelong health and happiness. Science backs this up, showing that outdoor activities can improve physical health, enhance mental well-being, reduce stress, and boost cognitive development. Nature, from lush parks to dense forests, offers an expansive playground that ignites imagination, encourages physical activity, and strengthens bonds between parents and children. While children certainly enjoy playing on their own, the moments shared with parents outdoors often become cherished memories, ranking high in quality time spent together.

In this light, we present five no-cost outdoor activities that promise not only to enrich your time together but also to foster a deeper connection with the natural world. Some activities might need a little preparation, but the joy and learning they bring are boundless.

Nature Scavenger Hunt

Embark on an adventure right in your backyard or at a nearby park with a nature scavenger hunt. Create a checklist of natural items for your child to find, such as:

Examples

A leaf with more than two colors

A rock shaped like a heart

A bird's feather

An insect with six legs

This activity sharpens observational skills, teaches about nature, and encourages curiosity and exploration.

These are just some example, but make sure you have a longer list to avoid dissapointmnet of not finding enough things.

Build a Fort or Fairy House

With just sticks, leaves, moss, and perhaps a sprinkle of imagination, you and your child can create an enchanted fort or fairy house. Whether it’s in a secluded corner of your garden or a quiet spot in the woods, this activity:

Fosters creativity and resourcefulness

Introduces basic engineering and design principles

Encourages storytelling and imaginative play

We all know that children love taking their favourite toys out. Make the best out of this buy building the fort for their favourite toy. This activity is a great example where children learn through play. Improvising, using resources that are readily available to create something purposeful are all skills that will prove so useful in their development.

Outdoor Obstacle Course

Transform your backyard or park into a thrilling obstacle course using everyday items like ropes, tires, and boxes. This setup promotes:

Physical fitness and coordination

Problem-solving as children figure out how to navigate each obstacle

A sense of accomplishment and teamwork

The game can have a sotryline, such as saving the princess or a speed element such as seeing who can complete the obstacle course the fastest. If you are in a forest you can use rocks and trees as milestones in the course, and have special missions at every point. An exmaple:

Run to the first tree to get the magic rock

The magic rock does not allow you to walk so you have to hop on one feet to the next tree.

Another magic rock is found there that makes you small. You have to make yourself small and walk like that to the next tree.

At the next point, a new magic rock is picked up. This is the Frog Rock, which prompts you to jump back to the start.

While you might be tempted soley to direct the activity, it is important to lead by example and leave your imagination unfold on how more obstacles can be added.

Bike Rides

A family bike ride through local parks or along scenic trails offers numerous benefits, including:

Physical exercise for all ages

An opportunity to explore new areas and appreciate the beauty of your surroundings

Quality family bonding time away from screens and technology

Probably a bike ride is not a new idea for you. Parents take their kids out with the bikes all the time. Unfortunately not too many get to actually ride along. Riding along sets a strong example on enjoying outdoor activities and is a good opportunity for movement at almost every age. Caution to where and how riding is done is important.

Outdoor Yoga

Find a tranquil spot in your garden or a local park for some outdoor yoga. This activity is perfect because it:

Enhances Physical Flexibility

Improves Concentration and Focus

Boosts Self-esteem and Confidence

Promotes Mindfulness and Emotional Regulation

Encourages Healthy Habits

The possibilities for outdoor activities are endless, and these five ideas are just the beginning. Whether it’s a simple walk in the park, a game of catch, or a more structured activity like those listed above, the key is to spend quality time together, engaging with the natural world.

At Footsteps Nurseries, we place a high emphasis on outdoor activities and believe in the significant role it plays in a child’s overall well-being. We provide a wide array of activities, from refreshing water play during hot summers to a multitude of other engaging and educational outdoor games. Our staff has observed visible improvements in the children’s well-being and happiness when they spend time outside. Our outdoor spaces have been thoughtfully designed to ensure that no day spent outside is a dull one. Each corner is fashioned to stimulate creativity, exploration, and learning. Safety is our utmost priority. We’ve put great effort into ensuring our play spaces are secure, enabling children to explore fearlessly while still remaining within a safe and protected environment.

We’d love to hear from you about your favorite outdoor activities. If you have ideas or experiences you’d like to share, please email us at [email protected].

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Parenting styles: navigating the spectrum

Parenting styles are the strategies parents use in raising and educating their children. We have a scientific consensus that a child’s upbringing has a strong influence on their wellbeing a child as well as a future adult. These styles encompass the approaches parents use to discipline, nurture, and engage with their children. As society progresses, understanding the nuances of different parenting styles becomes crucial for fostering environments where children can thrive.

Embracing the Spectrum of Parenting Styles

It’s essential to acknowledge from the outset that parenting does not fit neatly into predefined boxes. No single style encapsulates the complexity of raising a child. Each parent, in their unique way, might find aspects of themselves across different styles. Recognizing this diversity is vital, as there is no such thing as a perfect parent. What matters most is the intent and effort put into nurturing, guiding, and supporting children as they grow.

The Importance of Recognizing Parenting Styles

Understanding the characteristics of various parenting styles is not about labeling or judging. Instead, it’s a tool for self-reflection and growth. By identifying our tendencies, we can strive to adapt and improve our parenting strategies. The goal is to be the best version of ourselves for our children, recognizing that greatness in parenting comes from the willingness to learn, adapt, and evolve. Everyone has bad days and there is always space for improvement. There is no such thing as perfect parents and we need to embrace that. If we aknowledge that we can strive for growth.

Authoritarian Parenting: Structure Over Flexibility

Authoritarian parents prioritize strict rules and obedience. Communication is one-way, with little room for children’s input or discussion. This approach often results in children who are well-behaved and compliant but may struggle with self-esteem and decision-making in adulthood. They may also exhibit higher levels of aggression and have difficulties with anger management.

Examples

Enforcing bedtime strictly without exceptions

Not allowing kids to question decisions

Punishing disobedience without explanation

Authoritative Parenting: Balance and Support

The authoritative style is marked by a balance between enforcing rules and nurturing children’s independence. These parents set clear expectations and limits but are also responsive to their children’s needs and emotions. This approach fosters resilience, social competence, and high self-esteem among children. As adults, they tend to be confident, self-reliant, and successful in navigating life’s challenges. Examples:

Examples

Encouraging open dialogue about rules and decisions

Setting a curfew but allowing flexibility for special occasions

Guiding children through mistakes rather than punishing them harshly

Permissive Parenting: Too Flexible

Permissive parents are warm and accepting but often lack consistency in enforcing rules or boundaries. This leniency can lead to children struggling with self-discipline and respect for authority. While they may have high self-esteem, these children might face challenges with impulse control and responsibility as they grow older.

Examples

Allowing unlimited screen time

No set chores or responsibilities

Not enforcing consequences for breaking rules

Uninvolved Parenting: Detachment and Independence

In uninvolved parenting, there is minimal engagement or responsiveness to the child’s needs. This lack of involvement can lead to children feeling neglected, leading to issues with attachment and self-worth. As adults, they might struggle with forming close relationships and could exhibit delinquent behavior or emotional detachment.

Examples

Rarely attending child's events

Showing little interest in child's day-to-day life

Not setting or enforcing rules

Authoritative Approach at Footsteps Nurseries

At Footsteps Nurseries, we embody the authoritative style, believing in the power of balance, nurturing, and guided independence. Our approach involves discussing room rules and explaining the reasoning behind them, such as the importance of not running indoors for safety. We employ a collaborative strategy, encouraging positive decision-making among the children we care for. This method not only fosters a sense of responsibility but also builds a foundation for lifelong learning and growth.

Parenting is a journey filled with challenges, learning, and immense rewards. While no single style is the “correct” way to parent, understanding the impact of our approaches can guide us toward more effective and nurturing methods. At Footsteps Nurseries, we are committed to fostering an environment that supports the holistic development of children, preparing them for a bright and resilient future. As we navigate the complexities of parenting, let us remember that the journey towards improvement is ongoing, and it is our daily efforts that define our legacy as parents.

Nursery on tablet

How much is too much tablet time and how to limit it?

In today’s digital age, technology is a double-edged sword. It offers a world of knowledge and entertainment at our fingertips, but it also poses challenges, especially for parents navigating the balance between digital and real-world experiences for their children. This article doesn’t aim to demonize technology; we understand that sometimes, handing a tablet to your child can provide a much-needed moment of quiet or distraction. However, with the spike in technology use among children—many of whom learn to swipe a screen before they can speak—it’s essential to approach tablet time with caution.

How Much is Too Much screen time?

The answer isn’t straightforward. It varies depending on a child’s age, the content they’re consuming, and the context of their overall daily activities. However, NHS guidelines suggest limiting screen time to two hours per day at a maximum limit. The documentation this regard is lacking unfortunately. Two-hours of unsupervised content is defiently too much and even with the right content, without supporting the right context, this can be detrimental.

We can see an increaseing body of studies that found negative associations between the prolongued use of tablets (or TV) and child development. Professional organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offer screen time guidelines, recommending limited or no screen time for children under 5. However, these guidelines are based on research that often doesn’t differentiate between types of screen activities and includes a mix of correlational and longitudinal studies. Digital literacy will be even more important in the future, so having children be familiar and consume educational content is not a good thing.

Not All Content is Equal

It’s vital to remember that not all screen time is created equal. Interactive apps that encourage learning and creativity can offer valuable experiences, in contrast to passive video watching, which should be more limited. Quality matters more than quantity.

Jolly Phonics

Jolly Phonics is an interactive program teaching children to read and write using multisensory methods. It introduces the 42 sounds of the English language through songs, activities, and stories. The benefits include improved literacy skills, independent reading ability, and a solid foundation for lifelong learning and confidence in literacy.

Come outside

"Come Outside" is an educational series that explores the world through adventures with Auntie Mabel and her dog, Pippin. It teaches children about everyday objects and phenomena, enhancing their understanding and curiosity about the natural world. The benefit is its ability to make learning about everyday things engaging and fun for young viewers.

Cbeebies logo

Cbeebies

CBeebies is a British television channel by the BBC for children under six, offering educational and entertaining programs. It aims to foster early learning through shows that cover literacy, numeracy, and social skills in a fun, engaging way. Benefits include promoting creativity and providing a safe viewing environment for young children.

Thee are just some examples with the emphasis being on slow-media, educational and where possible interactive. An interesting tip for video content is to turn captions on as often as possible. This will enable children to familiarise with letters in a really fun way.

Setting Clear Rules and a Timer

Creating a structured environment for tablet use can significantly help manage screen time. Setting clear rules and using a timer can establish expectations and minimize the need for constant negotiation. For example, tablet time might only happend during specific routines. Some examples are: after a meal, after tidying the toys, while being in the car between nursery and home.

The key here is to create a routine that is predictable. Why? If the routine is predictable, there is not a continous struggle and negotiation to take place. If you are using an Apple product you have several tools to help you and the same applies for Android devices.

As we navigate the complex landscape of technology and parenting, it’s essential to remember that our primary goal is to foster healthy, well-rounded individuals. By setting clear boundaries, choosing quality content, and using technology as a tool rather than a crutch, we can strike a balance that benefits everyone. Let’s embrace technology’s potential to enrich our children’s lives while also ensuring it doesn’t overshadow the joys of real-world experiences.

At Footsteps Nursery we are mindful about how we use technology. We always promote the interactive use of it, using devices such as Alexa for our music Yoto for our interactive stories and tablets occasionally to teleport us into places where it would otherwise be impossible to get to (like the inside of a volcano).