One time, as a child, I built a fantastic fort that withstood four New England winters.
I was so proud of it! I would spend entire afternoons holed up in that sacred place. I’d get lost in an imaginary world, or while away the hours lost in a favorite book. I’d love to know how many books were read in that space!
Of course, my brothers and I built many forts over the years, both indoors and outdoors, but the outdoor forts reigned supreme.
This was back in the age before helicopter parents, ultra-safe playgrounds, and multiple screens. If it was nice outside, we were outside… until dinner.
I realize things are different now, but I believe fort building is an important part of childhood.
Not only that, it’s educational.
Earlier this week, I told my kids about my favorite childhood fort. I shared all the many adventures I’d had inside of it. I recounted the joy of rediscovering it each spring, as the snow melted and the days grew longer.
And then, we dropped everything and went outside to get our fort on.
You guys, you need to get out there and do the same. Right now.
10 reasons why you need to drop everything and build a fort with your kids right now:
1. Every child needs a cozy nook
It’s true! Having a special place of your own is a childhood need. I can remember transforming my closet into an office, or making blanket forts in our dining room, or building a treehouse. Every kid needs a nook.
2. Encourage a love of nature
3. Fort construction requires planning ability
Building the perfect fort requires lots of planning. From location to materials to construction itself, children are required to think ahead. This is something parents are always asking their children to do: Think before you act.
4. Boost problem solving and critical thinking skills
Forts are the original STEM challenge! Constructing your very own building is engineering in its purest form. During construction, your children will meet obstacles and, in order to overcome them, they will have to rely on critical thinking skills.
5. Forts require teamwork and collaboration
Do you want your children to get along? Have them work toward a common goal! After hearing stories about my childhood forts, my children had a goal and they worked together to meet it. Sure, there were squabbles but that brings me to the next point…
6. Practice communication skills
Working with others can be challenging. When working toward a common goal, there are often disagreements. In order to meet the goal, individuals must work together. I loved watching my children discuss their plans and ideas, and collaborate to overcome obstacles.
Let me tell you… my children slept well that night! They were exhausted. Building a fort is tons of hard work! In addition to walking up and down the hill in our backyard countless times, they were lugging heaving sticks and logs. They not only exercised their brains, but they also worked on those fine and gross motor skills. Fort building is the perfect activity for super-active children, like my son, who benefit from “heavy work”. Just look at this tuckered-out duo:
8. Increase self-confidence
As a child, there is nothing more satisfying than building your very own space. I can recall the pride I felt each spring when my fort was still standing, and I could see the pride in my children’s eyes as the fort neared completion.
9. Play matters!
In this age of screens and extra-curricular activities, old-fashioned play has become a lost art. Building a fort allows children to have a space of their own. In that space, they can get lost in an imaginative world. They can play house, fight battles, and pretend to be someone else. Forts encourage creativity and imagination and play, and these are important parts of childhood. If you don’t believe me, read this book.
10. Forts are fun!
Last, but certainly not least, forts are fun. At 37 years old, the thought of my childhood forts brings a smile to my face. Your children will be making memories and building bonds with each other that will last a lifetime.
Now is the perfect time to drop all the things and build a fort with your children!
March is the perfect time to build a fort! The ground is littered with fallen branches from the winter months. There are no mosquitoes yet, and it’s neither too hot nor too cold. Build one now and your children can enjoy it all spring and summer long!