Walking with Children... (or getting them away from screens...)
Getting children into walking at a young age can influence their habits in later life, hopefully leading to a more healthier, active lifestyle.
So how can you get your young ones interesting in walking? Here are some useful tips...
1. Make the Idea Sound like Fun
Don't say "who wants to go for a walk". Instead ask "who wants to explore the forest". If it sounds like a game, young children are more likely to be excited.
2. Choose an Interesting Spot
Many of the walks we adults do aren't that interesting for young people, so make sure that you choose a walk location carefully.
Straight routes and flat paths are boring. Children like places where there is lots to look at. They like to climb over things like logs and beaches and streams.
If there is a famous landmark, all the better, whether that be a place linked to a sport, famous person, film or television programme.
3. Dress Them Properly
They are masses of outdoor kit for adults - and these days there's the same available for young people too. Regatta has a full range of clothing for children and teens, as well as several other kit comanies too - whilst dedicated children clothing manufacturers like Kozi Kidz have a great range of exciting clothing for children up to around nine.
There's no need to go overboard, as children have a habit of growning out of stuff very quickly... Make sure that their shoes fit properly and are the right kind of shoes for walking. Likewise, clothes should be loose-fitting and not too hot or cold. Layers are always best. For a real treat, give them a small backpack to carry. Then they can hold the bits that they find along the way.
4. Keep the Pace Slow
There is nothing worse than a parent striding ahead and yelling "come on" or "hurry up". If they want to dawdle, dawdle with them - it is part of the experience.
5. Make up Games as You Go
To keep things lively and fun, make up stories, play follow the leader or hide and seek. Use "log books" for children to fill in, listing things that they have spotted or collected.
Treasure maps are fun if they are easy and the "treasure" can be a healthy treat.
Walking with very young children may require a pram or buggy. To ensure an enjoyable walk, it's helpful to find out in advance whether the route you are taking will be accessible.
On the Walks Around Britain website, the number of stiles and the grading of the route will help you decide whether the walk is suitable for buggies.
Alternatively, use a baby carrier, such as the ones from Deuter. These baby carriers are great and comfortable for both the child and the adult, and have an amazing amount of storage too for all those baby-related essentials.
Walks With Buggies has lots of routes that have been rated as suitable for parents with buggies and young children. You can search the database for walks across the UK that are accessible by buggy. The database holds over 300 walks and is updated every day.
Our good friends at walking-books.com have produced several packs in their Making Tracks range - designed especially for children.