Five reasons to go to the woods this weekend
Woods are green gyms. They’re playgrounds full of wonder and adventure where children can develop vital life skills. And they’re places where they can learn to value the natural environment. Time in the woods has so many benefits for kids.
Here are just a few reasons why you should get out into the woods this weekend.
Woodland play builds strong bodies
Trees to clamber up, logs to teeter along, streams to leap over… woods contain a natural obstacle course that helps kids keep fit, and develops muscle strength, coordination, and balance. And, of course, all that exercise and fresh air means a good night’s sleep too.
Help explore their limits and assess risks
Will that branch hold my weight? Are those stepping stones close enough together? If I climb up there, can I get down again? Playing in the woods teaches them how to work out when something’s too risky, as well as letting them feel the buzz that comes from pushing their physical boundaries.
Woods help develop creativity
Den building, finding the best hideouts, looking for the glade where the fairies live – free range play in the woods encourages kids to be imaginative and invent their own games and activities. It’s a great contrast to a constant round of organised activities, and is much more challenging and varied than the predictable park playground.
Den building is great fun, but before you start, please make sure you have the permission of the landowner. It's OK to build dens in our woods, but please only use wood that's already on the ground and loose logs (not from sculpture or piles) and remember to leave the area as you found it.
Refocus the mind
The intricate pattern of veins on a leaf, a butterfly basking in a patch of sunlight, a bird pecking at a clump of berries… woodlands are full of sights that absorb kids’ attention. They are sources of ‘effortless fascination’, which psychologists say provide a refreshing break from the mentally draining ‘directed attention’ of school and screen time. Research has found that children with attention problems such as ADHD were able to concentrate better after a walk in the woods.
Woods are calming
With myriad shades of soothing green, birdsong and the sound of trickling streams, woods are relaxing places to be, and studies have found that spending time in a natural environment reduces levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Trees absorb traffic noise as well as pollution, and give a sense of being cut off from the modern world. That makes a walk in the woods a great antidote to the overstimulation that affects many of today’s kids.
So what are you waiting for? Get planning your next trip to the woods today!