Milton Hershey School Whole Child Expert Presents Tips to Engage Children Outdoors
Featuring MHS Assistant Director of Psychological Services Dr. Mike Valle
Milton Hershey School’s 7,000-acre campus gives students ample opportunities to explore playgrounds, athletic fields, and green spaces. When students explore natural settings, get creative, and interact with the world around them, they make connections with nature and achieve personal and academic growth.
MHS Assistant Director of Psychological Services Dr. Mike Valle, MHS whole child care expert, shares 10 tips on how to engage children outdoors.
Take a Walk
Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. Just go for a walk! It can be brisk or slow, but get everyone outside together and allow conversations and interactions to occur.
Go on an Adventure
Kids love trying new things and it doesn’t have to be something big. Go to a new park or an area and just explore. Activities like this help everyone focus on the group and temporarily put their individual concerns aside for a period of time.
There are lots of great ways to allow kids and families to unleash their creative sides outdoors. Sidewalk chalk and paint are just two examples to let kids be outdoor artists!
Participate in Outdoor Service Projects
Giving back to others and the community has countless benefits for all of us. Outdoor service projects that help build community allow kids to be active while strengthening their sense of belonging.
Share a Meal
Pack a picnic lunch/snack or have an outdoor barbecue. The food doesn’t have to be fancy but taking it outside will build memories for kids and everyone involved.
Completer a Scavenger Hunt or Obstacle Course
Build some camaraderie and/or competition with an outdoor scavenger hunt or homemade obstacle course. This will get kids moving, build teamwork, and help them learn about their environment.
Visit a Playground
Our campus and local communities are packed with these outlets for kids. The equipment may seem similar, but going to a playground they don’t normally visit is always exciting for younger children.
Let’s Ride – Biking
There is just something special about the independence and freedom of a bike ride. Depending on the age levels, this can be a short family activity or a chance for older kids to explore on their own. They can learn responsibility with peers while getting exercise and enjoying the outdoors.
Explore a Road Less Traveled Through Hiking
Get off the beaten path and explore one of the many hiking areas in the community. This is a great way to put aside daily stressors and technology and just focus on being in the moment.
Appreciate Quiet Time
Outdoor time doesn’t always have to be active. Take those favorite indoor activities outside like reading, journaling, or listening to music.
Overall, “Just Do It!” Avoid getting paralysis by analysis. Even if you don’t have a specific plan, engage children outdoors spontaneously. You never know what unexpected magic, fun, and memories may unfold!