20 June 2023

The Great Outdoors: Six Important Benefits for Children during Summer Holidays in Northern Ireland

As the summer holidays rapidly approach, children in Northern Ireland are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the school holidays. The long days, warm weather (well, mostly), and sense of freedom make this season an exciting time for young adventurers.

It is during these precious months that we have the opportunity to instill a love for the outdoors in our children, recognising that our weather throughout the rest of the year may not always be as inviting, making it that bit more difficult to instigate.

Today we’ll explore six important benefits of getting children outdoors during the summer, highlighting how it positively impacts their physical health, mental well-being, cultural development, social skills, independence, and the creation of lasting memories.

  1. Physical Health Benefits: Spending time outdoors exposes children to sunlight, which is a vital source of vitamin D. “But it’s always cloudy!” We hear you protest. Well fear not, as even on cloudy days being outdoors is a great source of vitamin D. The sunshine not only contributes to the absorption of calcium, promoting healthy bone development, but also boosts kids’ immune systems, reducing the risk of illness. Additionally, the outdoors provides great opportunities for exercise, such as running, swimming, cycling, and hiking. Engaging in these activities helps children improve their cardiovascular fitness, coordination, and overall strength.

2. Mental Health Benefits: Nature has a remarkable ability to nurture our minds. Spending time outdoors allows children to escape the stresses of daily life, providing a refreshing change of scenery. Research shows that exposure to green spaces and natural environments can reduce anxiety, improve mood, and increase concentration and focus. The tranquility of the outdoors encourages mindfulness, creativity, and imaginative play, which are all essential for a child’s mental well-being.

3. Building a Culture of Outdoor Exploration: Introducing kids to the wonders of nature during their formative years cultivates a lifelong love for the outdoors. When children engage in regular outdoor activities, they develop an appreciation for the environment, learning to cherish and protect it. By making outdoor exploration a part of their upbringing, we foster a culture where nature becomes a valued companion, providing inspiration, fun and adventure throughout their lives.

4. Socialising and Building Relationships: The great outdoors is an excellent venue for children to interact, socialise, and build relationships with others. Whether it’s joining summer camps, participating in outdoor sports, or simply playing at the local park, outdoor activities create opportunities for children to meet new friends, learn teamwork, and develop their social skills. Additionally, spending time outdoors with family members, engaging in activities like picnics or hiking, strengthens bonds and creates lasting memories.

5. Fostering Independence: On the flip side of this, encouraging children to explore the outdoors themselves instills a sense of independence and self-confidence. As they venture out (in safe and supervised environments), children learn to navigate their surroundings, make decisions, and solve problems. This sense of independence boosts their self-esteem and prepares them for future challenges, ensuring they are well-equipped to face the world with resilience and resourcefulness.

6. Environmental Champions: In addition to the numerous personal benefits, getting children outdoors teaches them the importance of environmental stewardship. Exploring the natural world fosters an understanding of our interconnectedness with the environment and the need to protect it. By instilling this sense of responsibility at a young age, we equip our children with the tools to become future custodians of our planet. We’ve written about the impact children can have on the outdoors here.

The summer holidays present a golden opportunity for children in NI to experience the wonders of the outdoors. The benefits mentioned above and the memories created amid the beauty of nature can last a lifetime, providing a stark contrast to the sedentary, screen-centric activities that often dominate indoor pastimes. By fostering a love for the outdoors, we not only shape well-rounded individuals but create a generation who will love the outdoors and protect it.


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