In spring, a child’s fancy turns to pushing limits and boundaries. The same process that incites spring flowers into what Rilke called “blossoming most recklessly” propels children’s instincts for expansion. In the past, people called these surges of energy “spring fever.” Wasn’t it nice when there was a name for it?
Mark Twain once wrote about the condition. “It’s spring fever … and when you’ve got it you want – oh, you don’t quite know what you want, but it fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so.” Sound familiar?
At school when teachers remark “What a wild day!” at this time of year, it’s a sure sign that the surging spring energy has been hard to contain. We remind ourselves that this sometimes chaotic energy is ushering in new growth, but we also get children outside, moving their bodies and using their energy in positive ways.
Parents may notice this spring restlessness at home, and this is a perfect time of year to assess children’s level of physical activity. Children need to use their surging spring energy to strengthen their bodies and build physical endurance. During the three pandemic years and weeks of inclement weather, parents may not have had the bandwidth or opportunity to think about their children’s activity level. This is an important focus for us nationally with the impact of TV, video games, and other activities that entice children to a more sedentary life indoors.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that only one in four children gets the recommended guideline of sixty minutes of physical activity a day. More than 40 percent of children watch three to four hours a day of TV. In preschool we have children who prefer to stay inside, and we have to urge them to get outside and run.
We live in an area where children are expected to participate in organized team sports like soccer at a young age, when their bodies need a variety of physical activities like running, climbing, skipping, and jumping. Remember jumping rope? Hopscotch? The American Academy of Pediatrics cautions parents about having children specialize in one sport.
With the emergence of a bright new season full of hope, when colds and flu may subside in warmer weather, we can all get outdoors and revel in the green hillsides and blooming flowers.
Here are 100 delightful outdoor activities to engage in with your children this spring.