Regardless of the weather or season, outdoor play is essential in child development. It keeps them fit and active, the fresh air and contact with nature will encourage healthy breathing and tire them out. And let’s be honest, a good day playing is way better that a hard day working.
Every Child will benefit from playing outdoors, babies and toddlers, young kids, teens and even adults. Any amount of time, even if limited, get outdoors… just do it!
5 Important reasons to play outdoors
Cycling, walking, running, skipping and jogging are great activities to get your body moving. Sometimes these activities can seem like ‘work’ so to encourage everyone try something more fun when you present the outdoors to kids. Climbing trees, climbing the jungle gym, pushing a friend on the swing, pushing friends on the merry-go-round, balancing along a wall or stepping on stones to cross a stream - these are all good activities that support gross-motor skill development. This is when your body requires big movements to achieve a goal or perform a task.
Even babies can benefit from some tummy-time outdoors.
Both fresh air and playing with other kids is extremely beneficial to child development as these seemingly simple things assist to reduce stress and promote independence.
Another benefit of playing outdoors is to assist in developing the senses. Seeing new and interesting things, smelling the fresh air, touching the various surfaces that a child can be exposed to when outdoors. Taste is usually a tricky one when it comes to babies as they do tend to put everything in their mouths but a little sand or grass may aid the immune system, making them stronger. Many edible fruit and flowers found outside are beneficial. Before heading outdoors try finding out what you can expect to find.
Every step outdoors is a step in the right direction even for toddlers who are learning to walk will benefit tremendously from the uneven terrain in forests and parks. Setting goals for them to achieve will create confidence and excitement as and when they reach their destination.
By returning to regular areas and by meeting up with the same people and their will contribute to your little one self-confidence to engage and make friends. Making friends be it in the park or out on a walk will most definitely become easier the more frequent these encounters take place.
Growth and Development
Anything, and everything, is a learning experience! Get ‘down-and-dirty’ in the mud, build snowmen or sandcastles nothing is ever lost to children who are encouraged to participate. Once you have familiarized yourself with the environment and after seeing what there is, make notes and ask questions about what they see, get their input about how birds’ nests are built, how anthills are formed, where the bugs go for dinner… Talking about, and exploring the wonders of the wild, is the foundation to so much more learning and creating an inquisitive, exploring mind.
Learning about the Environment
The great outdoors offers a vast array of animals, trees, flowers, birds and bugs that are all worth discovering. Even your local park or common will have a unique ecosystem to learn about. As said, kids are like sponges, so do take the opportunity to tell them the difference between the Oak tree and an Acacia tree, show them how the leaves differ and what the seeds look like. Take it a step further and investigate which animals would make their homes in these trees… The opportunities for learning when outdoors is truly endless.
Make learning fun! Go for a bike ride, play I spy, identify colours, take your shoes off and feel the grass under your feet, feel the mud squelch between your toes, run the sand through your fingers and pat down the snow. Come rain or shine do go and spend some time outside. The great outdoors and nature are both a fantastic way to build strength and character and to create a fun, learning environment.