How to encourage kids to go walking
Many people believe that they need to give up walking trips and holidays after the birth of their children. (Well, at last for a decade or two!) But walking can be a great way to enjoy time as a family – and if you do it right, it can even lead to multi-day hikes and fun family walking holidays.
The key is to find the right ways to encourage the kids, rather then putting them off a healthy and invigorating hobby.
10 ways to motivate kids to walk
Keep it short… and sweet:
It might sound obvious but short walks are the best kind of walks, at least to start with. If you try to go too far on the first outing it will only put off kids, rather than inspire them to do more.
And always have a goal for your short walks. Suggest a walk that includes a café stop or an attraction that they will enjoy en route. The more there is to see and do on the walk the more likely they are to enjoy the time outdoors.
Tell the kids they are going trig bagging, rather than hill walking. Then identify a trig (triangulation point) on a small hill on a map and set off to “bag” the trig. Really, all you are doing, is making a hill walk sound a lot more interesting, but kids will like the idea of reaching something different.
You could turn trig bagging into a family hobby and aim to tick off – “bag" – as many as you can in a year.
Hunt for treasure:
The modern form of treasure hunting is Geocaching
. You choose a walk and then use GPS to located it. There are many Geocache walks that are suitable for children.
Go a Rambling:
Walking organisation The Ramblers has plenty of ideas for families, including Big Pathwatch
Rather than calling it a walk, tell the kids you are off to track wildlife. You could hunt for animal tracks, wildflowers, birds and trees.
Get the kids to start a “walking collection”. It could be focused on interesting shells, stones, fossils, or leaves to bring home. They can add all this into a scrap book or start a blog.
Instead of looking at the ground as you walk (although you’ll need to be careful where you tread) give the kids a lesson in clouds on your family hike.
Check out the other children who are enjoying their walking. For example, we have written about Rachael, who walked the West Highland Way in Scotland with Macs Adventure
You can get the kids involved in planning the walk on a map. Then they can show you the way to go when you are actually on the walk. Children really enjoy the art of map reading by compass.
Make big goals:
Once you have enjoyed a few walks and you are all feeling fitter and healthier why not set your sights a bit higher or bigger? You could aim to walk one of the UK’s biggest hills (on a fine day) or complete short sections of a long-distance trail, such as the West Highland Way, South West Coastal path or similar.
How do you inspire your kids to go walking?