Guest blog by Sally Rogers.
As a mother, I seem to be constantly fighting a (mostly losing battle) with screens. I want my small brood to go outside, to engage with the world, to run and jump and use their imaginations and get all the wonderful benefits of outdoor play that I keep reading about . They would rather stay inside and ‘live’ through a CGI avatar. So I’m absolutely delighted when I find somewhere for which the kids are happy to tear their eyes from the backlit LCDs and head eagerly out into the world – and not even complain about lack of wifi and charging points! New Lanark has proven to be such a place, and has been a fantastic boon to me. It’s great to watch your children using their own imaginations rather than that of a game designer. If you think that a heritage village is ‘stuffy’ and boring for kids – think again. There’s plenty for children to do, and mine are always delighted to take a trip out here.
Clearburn Picnic And Play Area
I was so happy with what I found in this play area when I first visited that we’ve been back several times purely because of it. I was delighted by the response of my youngest, in particular. He was diagnosed with ADHD last year. Like many parents of children with ADHD, I tend to experience a degree of trepidation when taking him to new environments as the nature of the condition  means that he can have difficulty behaving normally. This doesn’t mean I don’t try, though, and this year’s discovery of the Clearburn Picnic and Play Area was a much-needed tonic for a sometimes despairing mother! The place is like an enchanted land in which he and his sister can wander, explore, and play out limitless imaginary scenarios facilitated by things like a willow tunnel, a tree house, and all the usual play equipment. His absorption in the make-believe world he finds here is total, and clearly very enjoyable. He doesn’t even squabble with his sister – not even when she wants to use the play equipment at the same time as him! After our first visit, he seemed so very happy and relaxed in himself when we got home that I was prompted to do a little research on outdoor play and ADHD. I have since discovered that outdoor play in green spaces of this kind can be fantastic for kids with ADHD  – so we’ll definitely be back! However, there’s more than just this play area to draw the kids…
The Roof Garden
The Roof Garden  is my daughter’s favourite thing about this place. It’s on the top of one of the mill buildings, and gives a brilliant view of the village and surrounding area. That’s not why my daughter likes it, though. She likes the animal sculptures and the butterflies attracted by the flowers. We spent a happy half hour up here once while she followed a butterfly from bush to bush and tried to identify it with an app on her phone (yes, I know, screens again – but at least she was using it kind of productively!). Given that our children are increasingly failing to engage with nature, a resource like this which gently encourages them to enjoy the natural world of their own accord is very much needed . It didn’t hurt, of course, that there were cute baby ducklings to be seen up there on one of our visits, either (even if I did spend the trip home fending off requests for a pet duck…).
The Historic Classroom
The Robert Owen School classroom may not be outside, exactly, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. My two both love dressing up as Victorian school children and pretending to be the offspring of mill workers for a bit. What they especially love is being able to take the costumes off at the end of it and return to being modern children. I was surprised by the depth of their understanding on our first visit – they seemed genuinely grateful for the facilities (and lack of caning!) at their primary school, and were shocked when I told them that this was one of the good places and conditions were a lot worse for most Victorian children ! If your kids need a sense of perspective, bring them here!
 Mark Kinver, “Does outdoor play help keep the doctor away?”, BBC, Feb 2012
 PsychGuides, “ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder)”
 Diana Yates, “For kids with ADHD, regular ‘green time’ is linked to milder symptoms”, University of Illinois, Sept 2011
 New Lanark Visitor Centre, “The Roof Garden”
 The Telegraph, “Children’s knowledge of nature is dwindling, study finds”, Apr 2015
 Infed, “Education in Robert Owen’s new society: the New Lanark institute and schools”
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