Drag the children away from the TV or the computer and help them get some fresh air and exercise. Try our best outdoor activities and make sure your kids have a healthy, fun-filled school holidays
Recent research has found that not only are one in ten pre-school children obese, but they're spending less time playing outside. Studies carried out by the Early Learning Centre have revealed that while most parents (87 per cent) strongly believe that outdoor play and physical activities are very important to a child's development, only 11 per cent of children spend up to two hours a day during the weekend playing outside.
Child psychologist Richard Woolfson comments, 'Parents now realise that play is a serious business for children delivering physical as well as social and educational benefits. Outdoor play is as important now as it ever was, and children today can enjoy a great variety of outdoor toys, games and activities which are not only fun but also beneficial to health.'
Now that the summer holidays are upon us, it's an ideal time for parents to start thinking about ways of keeping the kids amused and away from the TV. And with the Summer Olympics around the corner, what better way to entertain them than heading to the park or the garden for some fun sporting activities. Make sure your children include outdoor activities in their daily routine, for better health, a great social life and lots of fun. You're also setting the foundations for your child to enjoy an active, fit adulthood.
From simple throwing and catching, to piggy in the middle (three people stand in a line and the two on either end throw the ball between them while the middle person tries to catch it; the middle person becomes a thrower if the ball is caught). You could also try throwing balls through hula hoops or playing dodgeball. And most children love to kick a football to each other or try and score goals. Why not host your own football tournament in a local park? Check out the Early Learning Centre for a great inflatable goal and huge selection of balls.
This old favourite is a useful standby when a child is playing alone, although it's fun to play with a partner. Mark out the ground in nine chalk squares. Throw a stone into the first square, hop into it, pick up the stone and hop back. Now throw the stone into square two and repeat until number nine is reached.
This is wonderful exercise and children can play it alone, with a single rope or with a group using a larger rope. Challenge the children to see how long they can skip for – it's a great calorie-burner. Older children can try their hand at 'Dutch skipping' using two ropes twirled in opposite directions – it's a lot harder than it looks! Try the Early Learning Centre for skipping ropes.
Great for younger children, you can organise hopping races, see how many times your child can hop, or set up a hopping challenge in which you set out beanbags and the children must hop to each one and pick up the beanbag.
Another great children's classic. You can have competitions to see who can keep their hoop going around their waist the longest, roll the hoops along the ground, or lie them down and throw bean bags into them, placing them progressively further away.
If there are a few of you and you're heading to the park, why not organise a game of rounders – all you need is a bat and a ball and two teams of at least five on each side.
The shops abound with games to play on the lawn. There is the lawn classic croquet, the French-inspired boules, quoits, and if your garden is big enough, badminton is always a family favourite. Check out the Jaques Garden Games Collection
Outdoor activities may be all fun and games, but as any parent knows, they also get a little bit grubby. That's where Biozet Attack Ecosmart comes in handy. Not only will it remove stains, but it's also environmentally conscious, contains no phosphorus and is grey water suitable.
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