Welcome to the Kids Guide to Centennial Parklands – 5 to 12 year olds edition! It’s not only about ‘why’ it’s important to get the kids outdoors, but also ‘how’.
Firstly, let’s start with an insight from Michael Leunig (see here). This is not an exercise in parental guilt, more a representation of many children’s experience of nature in our modern society.
So, let’s start with the benefits for kids getting outside – playing, learning and exploring.
There are many benefits of kids getting outdoors and exercising or playing, including that it:
- helps their body grow properly, giving strong bones, muscles, lungs and heart
- helps develop good flexibility, balance and coordination
- improves social skills and self-confidence by meeting friends and making new ones
- improves mental health by feeling happier and full of energy
- helps maintain a healthy weight
- improves sleep
In addition, we previously blogged about the link between outdoor activity and myopia in kids.
What should we aim for?
Kids aged between 5 and 12 years need at least 60 minutes a day of moderate and vigorous activity:
- ‘Moderate’ physical activity includes brisk walking, bike riding, skateboarding and dancing.
- ‘Vigorous’ activities are ones which make you ‘huff and puff’, like running and playing games like basketball and football.
Centennial Parklands can help you
There are so many opportunities for kids aged 5-12 years old in Centennial Parklands, here’s just a few ideas:
1. Family play and role model
The best means of instilling a healthy and active lifestyle with your child is to: (1) act as a family unit, and (2) role model good behaviour. Visit the Parklands together. If you drive to the Parklands, pack basic sports equipment in the boot of the car. If walking, pack a ball, frisbee or kite in a bag (bonus benefit: if you live close enough, walking to the Parklands will provide added benefits as it becomes part of your activity time, and can be a time of connection and engagement with your child).
The Healthy Kids website outlines a five-step plan to create such a healthy lifestyle, and what parents can do to contribute to this.
For the 5-8 year olds, a great way of mixing activity with exploration is to play a “Nature Treasure Hunt” in Centennial Parklands. Each time you visit, nominate five different environmental ‘treasures’ that kids must spot. For example, ‘spot five different types of birds’, ‘spot five different types of tree’, ‘spot five different types of flower’. Combine this game with the use of a camera and your child can additionally build up their collection of images and take them back home for later review and further family discussion or investigation.
2. Join an organised sport team
Joining an organised sporting team helps develop discipline and routine, periods of activity and social interaction, and can help build confidence in kids. Centennial Parklands has 36 turf sports fields, tennis courts, a golf course, equestrian facilities and an athletics field.
Over 600,000 sports users come to the Parklands last year alone to play more than 35 different sports. What this means is that there is an incredibly large number of opportunities to play organised sport in Centennial Parklands.
3. Golf for fun, fitness and finesse
Centennial Parklands’ golf course – Moore Park Golf – has a teaching facility called Sydney Golf Academy. This facility runs regular classes for all ages and levels of skill. Golf is one of those sports that kids can enjoy in a safe and structured environment.
Golf teaches discipline, skill, fitness and improve concentration levels. As a game of inches, it can also teach critical and analytical skills, as well as providing some great practical mathematics exercises! Golf actually fits perfectly with the outdoor fitness and exercise regime, as it is one of those sports that can be ‘good for you without you realising it is doing you good’.
4. Wild play programs
At Centennial Parklands we are keen to provide opportunities for kids to connect with nature, and learn some of the skills that all kids used to learn in days gone by. This is part of the movement of reconnecting children with the world around them, and we are offering a range of opportunities for kids – see What’s On.
5. Wet weather options
Before we address wet weather options, what we do want to make clear is that donning a rain coat and gumboots, and heading out into the Parklands in the rain is actually another alternative learning experience for young kids. Rug up and head out – you’ll be delighted by the birdlife you’ll see, especially around Duck Pond and Busbys Pond in Centennial Park.
Putting aside a walk in the rain, Centennial Parklands can also cater for wet weather with a number of indoor options for play, exercise and exploration. Here is a list of things to do in wet weather.
Children and nature – more links
If you are interested in finding out more about getting kids outdoors and reconnecting children with nature,you can learn more from our program:
A list of other recommended readings:
- Getting kids into nature
- Nature Deficit Disorder: Re-Connecting Suburban Kids with Nature
- Children and Nature Network (US)