Parents' perceptions of their children's outdoor activities before and during COVID-19 crisis
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Keywords:Outdoor play, Outdoor learning, Parents' perceptions, Preschoolers, COVID-19
This study is focused on Israeli parents' perceptions regarding the possible benefits and barriers to their children's outdoor activities as well as on their reports on the actual engagement of their children in these kinds of activities, before and during the COVID-19 crisis. We employed a mixed-method design, including a questionnaire and a semi-structured interview. The participants were 213 Israeli parents. Findings reveal that parents think that outdoor activities benefit children's physical-motor and social development and their health. They consider their long work hours and weather conditions as the main barriers to spending more time outdoors. Parents also reported going out significantly less with their children to playgrounds after the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, compared to their habits before the pandemic. The decrease in the time spent outdoors was attributed by the parents to their long work hours and to an increase in the time spent by their children in front of screens. In light of the findings, we suggest that parents need guidance in order to restore the habit of going out to close playgrounds on an almost daily basis and in order to appreciate the contribution of outdoor activities to children's connectedness and knowledge about nature.
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