We have found various concepts and ideas that we used in the beginning to encourage our children to walk, more so the youngest as we started our adventures when she was just a baby.
We often get asked how do we get them to walk so far? Now this has be a process over 4 years, with many moans and groans along the way especially in the first year of walking when she was 20months -3 years.
We started with 1-2 mile walks and gradually built it up over the year.
At 3 she would walk 6-7 miles without any complaints and now at 4 she has walked 10-16 miles.
SOME OF OUR TIPS
1-Planning is priority.
Don’t expect a child to walk 5 miles over a boring field, they need objects along the way to keep them entertained. We started with small walks that included rocks, trees or rivers along the route, we used these as incentives to get them to walk a little further each time.
2- Snacks Snacks and more Snacks
Ariya started walking from 18 months on our hikes, so we stopped every 15/20 minutes to have a drink and snack, this recharged their batteries, gave them something to look forward too, while each week adding an extra 0.5 miles onto the walk.
We use to play “let’s see who can find game"
They would be given things to find like the biggest leaf, smallest sticks or smoothest rocks. Eye spy, Geo-catching, jumping in puddles or rolling down hills.
4-Give them a reward afterwards
This can be a trip to the park, Ice cream, time on a iPad or computer game, we used this at the beginning but now walking is natural to them we don’t have to use any bribery tactics, we do however still include ice cream or a play area at the end.
5- Print out a work sheet for the trail of things to find
If they complete it you can print off a certificate at the end, kids love rewards.
6- Allow the kids to plan
As they get older allow them to help choose where to walk, allow them to take the lead
(After some map reading lessons) It really does give them a sense of responsibility and achievement.
6- Organise or join other walks
Meet up with other hiking families as we find the kids walk without any complains when other children are also walking.
Let the kids choose a yearly challenge, for example to walk 1000 miles with country walk magazine, or climb the height of Everest with trail magazine, walks the 214 wainwrights, go wild camping etc.
Find a walk that is interesting, caves, old ruins, tarns, streams or hills to roll down as we find this keeps them more interested.
Print of a certificate after each walk to add to an album of achievements for them, it gives them something to look back on as they grow older.
Let them climb trees, jump in muddy puddles, throw rocks in the stream, as it gives more Independence when walking, confidence, self-esteem and a huge sense of achievement.
Sign up older children to navigation awards, or join in orienteering as a family as this helps with sense of direction.
We found by signing them up to rock climbing and bouldering this helps with their perception, ability, concentration and confidence when out walking or scrambling.