Getting Kids Outside

Recently I heard a disturbing statistic – only one in three kids have ever planted or cared for a garden. As a gardener whose kids help me in the garden (albeit some more willingly than others), I am stunned. My kids have all planted things, and had their own gardens in garden beds or even just in pots. I know that I am totally biased but I truly believe that gardening and a love of nature and the living world is so important.

woven treehouseGardening is fun, its healthy for our bodies and minds, it is much cheaper than therapy, and it can literally save the planet. The challenge for me is that the only people that read my gardening columns, watch gardening programs on TV or hear me speak about gardening at lifestyle or community events, are already gardeners. So what can we do as a group of gardeners to help teach kids a love of gardening and nature? It may be your kids, your grandkids, nieces and nephews or even kids at your local school, but work out what you can do to make a difference. Share your passion.

Outside Play has Life Long Benefits

The statistics show that from my generation to my children’s, there has been a dramatic decrease in outdoor playtime and now the average Australian child spends less than 2 hours a day outside, less than a maximum security prisoner. Spending time outside in nature, whether gardening or just playing is really important for us all, and vital for children. It is essential for their physical, mental and emotional development and there are numerous studies which show that unstructured time outdoors in a nature improves a child’s imagination, their ability to make decisions, solve problems, resolve conflict, and much more. Research also shows that children were less likely to suffer symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) when they spent time in gardens or parks. As David Suzuki says, “Unless we are willing to encourage our children to reconnect with and appreciate the natural world, we can’t expect them to protect it and care for it.”

There are many reasons kids are spending less time outside.

Gardens are smaller and even where block sizes remain the same, the houses have a much larger footprint over the block. The little space left for a garden is often paved over or simply has a lawn plonked on it, so why would kids want to go outside – there is nothing to do, explore and no potential for adventure.  Another reason why kids venture outside less is that much of society has become risk averse and clean obsessed. Kids are no longer free to free range down to the local park, nor climb trees and play in the mud. Combined with the technological distractions not available to previous generations, screen time has replaced green time with Australian kids connecting with a screen for 4.5 hours per day. It is no coincidence that we are having increased problems with childhood obesity, depression and behavioral disorders.

Nature Play Resources

Nature Play is a worldwide movement that wants outdoor play in nature to become an everyday part of childhood again. They want to get more children outdoor, learning and being physically active while building a lifelong connection to nature.

For further information visit:

Nature Play SA
Nature Play WA
Nature Play QLD

These three Australian organisations have great resources and activities that you can tap into.