In these days of increasingly structured play, academics and indoor temptations (even at preschool level), we need to make the effort and give our kids the opportunity to play outside. Here are 8 great reasons to encourage outdoor play.
1. learning their limits
Children need to push their own limits to learn about themselves (How high can I swing? Dare I go down the slide?) and they must also experiment with the world around them (Is concrete hard or soft to fall on? Can I slide on sand?). This can only be done through interaction with the environment and being given opportunities to explore and learn.
2. letting off steam
Playing outside in the fresh air to get rid of excess energy or to freshen up a tired body and mind has to be one of the most useful things about outdoor play. How many times have you sent a tired, grumpy kid outside for a bounce on the trampoline, only to have them come back inside 10-minutes later in an entirely different, happy mood.
3. physical exercise
Outdoor play helps your child to develop large motor and small motor skills and fitness. From swinging on monkey bars to strengthen little fingers and upper body, to balancing across a wobbly rope bridge, it not only increases the heart rate and fitness levels, but gives your child plenty of opportunities to master new skills and practice old ones.
4. social interaction
Outdoor play often involves other children and playgrounds in particular provide plenty of opportunity for social interaction, group games and turn-taking.
5. enjoyment of the outdoors
Outdoor play is one of the things that characterise childhood. Children need opportunities to explore, experiment, manipulate, reconfigure, discover, practice, dam up, push their limits, yell, and create. It’s no coincidence that as an adult, some of our best childhood memories are of outdoor activities.
6. learning about the world
Learning things outside is particularly effective (and more fun!). Not only do kids learn fundamental information about how the world works, but they are more likely to remember what they learned because it was personally meaningful.
7. future good habits
It makes sense that children who learn to enjoy the outdoors have a much higher likelihood of becoming adults who enjoy hiking, gardening, jogging, bicycling, mountain climbing, or other outdoor physical activities.
8. allowing children to be children
Jumping, running, climbing, swinging, racing, yelling, rolling, hiding and making a mess is what childhood is all about! Outdoor play fulfils basic childhood needs such as freedom, adventure, experimentation and risk-taking. Let your children make the most of their short childhood!