Nowadays, children spend a significant part of their time in front of their phones and tablets. But this sedentary lifestyle is detrimental to their health and wellbeing. Undoubtedly, parents want their kids to be independent, well-rounded and physically healthy individuals. Well, there’s a way to instil all these qualities in your children, and that is by promoting outdoor play.
Encouraging your kids to spend time outside their rooms is beneficial for their physical and emotional health. Moreover, playing also helps them develop cognitive, creative and social skills.
Outdoor activities satisfy children’s basic needs for play, fresh air and social interaction with other kids. A playground is a learning place where fun, imagination, and exploration abound. It encourages children to try different things, feel fear, learn to take risks and manage conflicts. Developing these skills allows kids to become adults that know how to cope with various challenging situations.
Let’s further explore the numerous benefits of outdoor play for children’s development.
It teaches them to appreciate nature
Studies have shown that children who spend time outdoors become adults who respect and appreciate nature. They consider the environment a priority and thus, do their best to protect it. This happens naturally as children spend time outside and connect with nature.
They watch the squirrels that run after each other, witness a sunset, plant flowers and climb trees. They explore parks and discover all of nature’s wonders. Therefore, their childhood experiences allow them to be compassionate and more aware of the environment when they grow. And naturally, they want to preserve the spaces they once loved so much because they know their value. The planet’s future depends on children – if they learn to appreciate it throughout their childhood, they’ll take action as adults to care for the environment.
It improves their overall health
Outdoor play can also improve children’s health. A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of developing several health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and obesity. However, spending time outside can help reduce these dangers.
It’s paramount for kids to be active for at least one hour a day, and outdoor play or sports is a fantastic way to ensure that happens. And what better way to promote physical activity than encouraging them to play?
What’s more, spending time outside also exposes children to sunlight. It’s true that sun exposure – sunburns in particular – can increase the risk of getting skin cancer. And yet, the body needs the sun to make vitamin D, which plays a critical role in several body processes, such as bone development. Plus, sun exposure boosts your immune system, promotes healthy sleep and can improve your mood. Sunscreen lotion is vital when leaving kids outside, and you should ensure they spend a suitable amount of time – not too little and not too much, but just enough for them to absorb Vitamin D.
It increases motor skills and coordination
Children who spend time outside have increased motor skills compared to their ‘indoor’ peers. Outdoor play improves balance, agility and coordination. The activities children do outside allow them to challenge their bones, muscles and physical endurance. For instance, climbing and swinging are excellent ways to encourage coordination and balance. They help children make sense of height, speed and direction.
Playground equipment like climbing frames provides children with the opportunity to have fun while also developing critical skills. You can add it to your garden to create the ideal play environment for your children, and that way, you ensure they can play safely while you’re doing house chores. Fatmoose also suggests adding swing sets to your child’s playground equipment, as it provides several benefits, including enhanced sensory skills and an improved mood. Swinging is also great for kids with special needs, as it has calming effects and can improve their attention span. There are limitless advantages in the role outdoor play equipment plays in children’s development, and your kids would indeed love having it in the backyard.
It enhances their social skills
Being outdoors allows kids to spend time with their peers and strengthen their friendships. Playing outside helps children become more self-aware and increases awareness of their peers’ feelings. In fact, research has revealed that kids who spend time outdoors aren’t likely to bully other children.
Outdoor play requires teamwork and imagination, thus promoting positive interactions among children. Sure, there will still be arguments over who is next to shoot a basket or go down the slide. But generally, children who play outdoors regularly are more likely to find common ground and get along with other kids.
It builds children’s sense of independence
Spending time outdoors has another significant benefit – it helps kids build their sense of independence. Children have to deal with conflicts and take risks when being on the playground. In other words, they have to make their own decisions without getting any support from their parents, which can be very beneficial for children’s development. They get the opportunity to invent games with their peers, explore their boundaries and acknowledge their capabilities.
This can boost their self-esteem, which is necessary for kids, as it helps them build a growth mindset and thus, they won’t steer away from taking on new challenges. They will feel confident enough to cope with several life situations, learn from their mistakes and stand up for themselves, as they value themselves and their abilities.
It sparks their creativity
A child may think you can create art only indoors using colours and pencils. But spending time outdoors can open the door to a world full of opportunities. They discover that a patch of dirt and a stick are fantastic tools that they can use for their next masterpiece.
This out of the box type of thinking can be a great asset in their life. And there’s no limit to what they can come up with only by using their imagination. A saucepan can quickly turn into a space helmet that your kid needs for their intergalactic travel! Creativity allows children to celebrate their uniqueness, which is critical in building a strong sense of self.
When it comes to the benefits of outdoor play, the list is endless. Spending time outside contributes to children’s physical, social, emotional and intellectual development. Therefore, parents must promote outdoor play and create opportunities for kids to develop skills that they will use in real-life situations.