GRAND Magazine - Summer 2021 - 17
Physically active outdoor
The Center for Disease Control
(CDC) recommends that children
have at least 60 minutes per day of
strenuous or moderate physical activity.
Aerobic activities promote children's
endurance by increasing their
heart and breathing rates. Their muscles
become stronger as they play
on jungle gyms and ride trikes. Their
bones are strengthened as they walk,
run, and gallop.
Don't these recommendations
sound familiar? Grandparents know
that physical activities are essential for
our own health. Additionally, as we
age, avoiding falls requires maintaining
our kinesthetic awareness.
We can feel the health benefits of the active time
we spend outdoors. Playing outdoors provides all of
us - grandparents as well as grandchildren - the necessary
aerobic, muscle and bone strengthening, and
kinesthetic activities of a great workout.
Outdoor play: A window into
I spoke with Jane Perry, internationally known for
her study of children's outdoor play. Jane emphasizes
playing outside is just plain fun. It's a special time for
grandparents to share with their grandkids.
Active outdoor play can give grandparents a
17 GRAND Summer 2021
front door to explore the nearby environment.
A child may watch a plant change
throughout its life cycle or learn to gently
hold a worm and examine it, then return it
to its habitat. As grandchildren and grandparents
roam together, they find beauty
in the color of local flowers, the call of
neighborhood birds, the curl of the tiniest
new leaf, and the majesty of an old tree.
wider window into their grandchildren's experiences.
Outdoor play has social, cognitive, and artistic as well
as physical dimensions - and important challenges for
It's a chance to watch and think about how grandchildren
play by themselves and with their playmates,
how they use materials, and what they try to do.
Wood chips become money. An acorn cap becomes a
fairy cup. Sand and water can be mixed together into
whatever a grandchild's imagination calls forth.
Outdoor nature play
Childhood is a critical time to develop a deep relationship
with the natural world. Grandparents help by
encouraging children to follow their natural curiosities.
For young children, this means starting outside their
Outdoor play creates
Recently, I've asked teenagers to tell
me what they remember doing with
their grandparents when they were little.
Strikingly, most memories involved outdoor
experiences, like being carried on
shoulders, strolling around the neighborhood,
playing at nearby parks, gardening, swimming,
or hiking. Being outdoors, it appears, is not only fascinating
at the moment but also has staying power, the
power to create loving and lasting memories.
Dr. Judith Van Hoorn is the author of
the 2021 book, The Gift of Play: How
Grandparents Enhance the
Lives of Young Children
which links her personal
passion with her
For description and
photos, see her author's
com. The Gift of Play is available wherever
books are sold.
GRAND Magazine - Summer 2021
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of GRAND Magazine - Summer 2021
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