Why Outdoor Play is Important
Children need to remain active throughout the day; promoting outdoor play allows them to get fresh air and explore their environment more. Hands-on learning, the natural environment and loose parts in the outdoors stimulate children’s senses through what they hear, touch, see and feel.
Outdoor play is an important part of childhood! It’s exciting to see children in their natural environment – exploring their surroundings, being curious about what’s around them and finding joy in seeing new things. What do you remember about playing outside as a child? As a child, I always remember running around the park, digging and dumping sand in the sandbox, and climbing up and going down the slide. Playing in the street and outside the front of the house was more acceptable too.
It is sad to see children spending less time outside. A recent study in the UK found that children today spend half of the time outside compared to the amount we did as children.
Studies have shown that children can learn a lot from playing outdoors – from improved spatial recognition to simply understanding environmental tendencies. Simple activities such as seeing leaves change colour and shape, running and jumping in rain puddles, or watching the flowers and vegetables grow during the spring, can make such a great difference.
Here are eight benefits of outdoor play:
1. Help your baby sleep better at night
Research shows that babies sleep better at night if they’ve had some fresh air and sunshine during the day. It is definitely worth a walk or play outdoors to help your baby sleep better. Have you heard of the Scandinavian nurseries who purposely have sleep time for babies outdoors?
2. Outdoor play is a fun way to learn
Going outdoors to play is a brilliant sensory experience for babies and toddlers. There is so much for them to learn, see and explore. The changing nature of the outdoors makes it an incredibly stimulating and multi-sensory place to play. This is important as babies and young children learn and gain experience through all their senses. This explains too why babies love looking at trees!
3. Developing motor skills
Young children need the opportunity to use their whole body and develop their gross motor skills. Our rule in Plantos is no running inside. Playing outdoors in your garden or local park lets babies crawl or toddle further. Outdoors has the space to run freely and safely at nursery. As they get older, they’ll have space to run and jump outside.
They can also develop their fine motor skills as they pick up natural treasures like leaves and fir cones. Outdoor play improves physical development. Physical skills are important for growth, physical coordination and the movement of the body. When children play outdoors they increase their ability to balance, jump, climb, throw, run and skip.
4. Encourages a healthier lifestyle
Getting outdoors with your toddler can help them burn off some energy and encourages a healthy lifestyle. Through physical activity and challenges, being outdoors helps children sleep, eat, and live more healthily. This encourages them to form healthy habits for life. You will also notice that your child is happier outside and you feel refreshed as a parent too.
5. Care for the environment
Playing outdoors is a brilliant way to get out in nature and become aware of the environment. Children who gain knowledge and appreciation of nature are more likely to become environmentally aware as adults. It is a prime opportunity for children to gain knowledge and appreciation for the natural world. Children learn about the natural elements and their surroundings when they are outside. For example, they learn about the weather, the change in seasons, and different animals that are found outside. The children in Plantos love looking under wood and stones to find creepy crawlies!
6. Positive impact on the whole family
It’s amazing how fresh air can blow away the cobwebs and make a world of difference to how you feel as a parent. Even a short walk can do the world of good for the whole family. Especially on days after a sleepless night or when your child is feeling grumpy or grizzly at home. After such a difficult Covid period, we should all make an effort to be outside as much as possible. Don’t let lock down make you feel down!
7. Make new friends
Getting outside is also a good opportunity for parents to get some gentle exercise and meet friends. From chatting to other parents in your local playground to joining a local group. Due to restrictions and social distancing, even meeting one or two other people outside can make you feel refreshed after putting the world in its place and feeling normal! More friends means improved social development. Outdoor play provides children with the opportunity to gain social skills by interacting, collaborating and negotiating with others.
8 Increased imagination
Being outdoors gives children the opportunity to pretend to be anything they want, for example, to be a bear in the wild or a chef in the kitchen. To be a driver on the outdoor carts or to be a sailor in the boat!
So, that’s enough of reading.. go outside for some fresh air!!!