Every year we start the summer holidays thinking about how we are going to keep our children occupied for 6 whole weeks and we’ve tried to support you along the way this year with different topics and tips to help your family cope better, and even enjoy, this long period of time together where the other routines of everyday life are temporarily abandoned.
So, let’s get through this last week of the holidays together – and as it might just turn out to be a week with some sunshine in it let’s discover the joys and benefits of embracing the outdoors.
Despite what our children may sometimes want us to believe – being outside is really very good for them and it’s unlikely to cause the immediate onset of boredom that they fear. It’s also really important to advise our young people that if it does actually rain (and of course there is a very strong possibility that it will) they will survive! We do live in a time (very different to when we were younger) when those little screens (or big ones) provide much entertainment and stimulation for our children and it can be hard to convince them to take a break.
If you have worked with Youth Fairy Sian or Lisa, you and your family will likely be keeping a positive diary – where we encourage you to write down 5 things that have been good about your day. We always start every session with children asking ‘What’s been good this week?’ and almost every time at least one of the things they share is an outdoor activity that they have enjoyed – a bike ride with Dad, kicking the football around with friends, a family walk, going to the park.
All Youth Fairy programmes involve helping children understand how their brain works and what they can do more or less of to improve their well-being. We don’t tell them what to do (it’s important they come up with their own steps that are right for them in their world) but when we explain we create serotonin (which helps us to feel happier and calmer) when we engage in the 3Ps – take Positive Action, have Positive Interactions, or have Positive Thoughts they will often decide to make plans to go outside and be more active (usually with friends or family). This one action of spending more time outside is essentially hitting all of the 3ps in one go – it’s really hard to have negative thoughts when you are outside being active with friends or family.
The Youth Fairy families have taken this to the max this year…..
Lisa and her family (including Molly the Cockapoo) travelled up into the Highlands of Scotland for their holiday.
Sian and her family took it a step further and braved this unpredictable English summer to go camping in Devon.
Lisa asked 7-year-old Olivia what the best part of the holiday was for her and she couldn’t choose just one – “horse-riding on the beach, walking on the beach, seeing seals on the beach, paddling, collecting shells, going on a boat…”. Olivia definitely had a theme – if there was a beach she was in her element! Beyond having fun, Olivia was also learning some amazing life skills and developing some of her strengths – at times she had to develop courage to try new activities and make new friends. As her parent one, of the highlights for Lisa was seeing Olivia lost in imaginative play or just enjoying quiet time appreciating the beautiful colours and shapes created by the sky and the sea.
So, where is this encouragement that we promised you at the beginning of this blog?
Here it is. This last week of the holidays, come rain or shine, step outside.
When we go outside, we all benefit – we benefit physically, socially and mentally.
- Develop co-ordination, fine-motor skills and physical fitness
- Develop communication skills, create friendships and build positive relationships
- Appreciate our environment and develop a love of nature which is carried into adulthood
- We can make noise – and it never seems as loud to parents when it’s outside!
- Build independence and develop resilience
- Be inventive and creative – and aid brain development
Whether it’s a walk to the park, a drive out to a place of outstanding natural beauty (we have so many of these in the UK and you’ll likely find that you have one closer than you think), an evening walk by the sea or a full-on car-loaded-bucket-and-spade-filled day on the beach – take a moment to be together and be outside.
You won’t regret it. It can be free and it can be fun!
When was the last time you played hopscotch, rolled down a hill or played frisbee? It doesn’t have to be that energetic either, go looking for fairies in woodlands or bug hunting in a field.
Whatever you decide to do well-done – the six weeks we longed for (or dreaded) have nearly been completed and in next week’s blog we will look at the transition into new school years, new schools and getting back to routine