Summer is here and before you know it, it will be gone. In just a few months, parents will bemoan the cold weather and their kids being stuck indoors.  The important thing with the preschool age sect and summertime is to get them away from screens (TV, computer and mobile devices) and get them outdoors. In the absence of screen time, children in this age group have an innate natural tendency to move. With limited summer days remaining, now is the time to help our kids disconnect from technology, get active and hopefully connect to nature.

Outdoor time matters.  As teachers, we sometimes take children outside to “burn off some energy,” and many of us plan our summer vacations based on the outdoor activity available or the scenery to be taken in. Not only does playing outside and exploring nature have positive effects on our kids, but they are critical to a healthy physical and emotional course of development. Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, discusses how “Nature Deficit Disorder” can lead to childhood issues such as the rise in obesity, attention disorders, and depression.  We at Columbus Pre-School are firm believers in the power of the great outdoors, play and physical activity.

How to harness the power of the outdoors and active engagement for your kids this summer

Lead by example: A child who sees their parent engaging in an active and outdoor lifestyle is more apt to want to participate in the same! Parents who are active and love being outdoors, whether participating in a form of exercise, gardening or simply reading a book, subtly encourage the same sort of behavior and interest in their children.

Get creative: Turn the average walk in the city or Central Park into a scavenger hunt.  Draw up a list of things for children to find along the way, such as a batch of roses in front of a shop, a front door with a brass knocker on it, a pigeon, taxicab or even Belvedere Castle.

Break out the equipment: Fill a bag with balls, jump ropes, rackets, Frisbees and other items that encourage outdoor games and bring it over to the park. Kids love to dance and there’s no better place than at the park. This is the only time we recommend bringing the iPhone and an inexpensive portable speaker. Turn up the volume and boogie the day away. Mom, dad, or caregiver might even get in a little exercise, too!

Day trips: We all sometimes struggle to come up with new ideas for day outings and often it’s at the last minute, so plan ahead – even if it’s just a day before! There is an abundance of places to visit in neighboring Westchester and Fairfield counties, Long Island and the Jersey Shore including: beaches; nature centers and animal petting farms; zoos; water and amusement parks, all of which provide lots of opportunity for outdoor learning, play and activity.

Pack a picnic: If you need to stay local (in NYC), there are tons of great west side, east side, and downtown areas on the river to pack a tasty lunch and sit outside. For the sake of being active, and if possible, bag the cab and either walk or take a subway.

No rain on our parade: When the weather just won’t co-operate (or when it’s just too hot to spend hours outside), visit us at the Columbus Gym!  Our state-of-the-art 2,500 square foot facility offers fitness and gymnastics programs for children ages 10 months – 12 years.  The safe and nurturing environment is an ideal place for your kids to beat the heat, expel some of their pent-up energy and have an active and fun day. You can learn more about Columbus Gym by clicking here.

Remain active during the school year:  If you live close enough to your child’s preschool in NYC, try walking or biking to school with your child. Not only does walking create “refresh time” for your child’s brain, but it also provides great opportunities for conversation and a way to start the day off right for both of you!

Enjoy the rest of the summer and we look forward to seeing you in September!