As children we all enjoyed playing outside, discovering new activities and exploring nature but besides being incredible fun, outdoor play also has a range of benefits for our children and should be actively encouraged.
One of the main advantages of encouraging children to play outdoors is the health benefits of being active outside. Active kids are healthy kids and being active can help children avoid developing life limiting conditions such as obesity and diabetes.
Other benefits of outdoor play for children include;
- Increased educational opportunities. The outdoors is a perfect learning environment for children, giving them the space to learn through movement-an important feature of learning in early development along with play, talk and sensory learning. The outdoors offers a perfect vehicle for all of these different ways of learning and studies have shown that children learn more easily when outdoors.
- Decrease stress levels. Playing outside allows children to ‘burn off’ excess energy by giving them the freedom and space needed to run around. The feeling of space and tranquility provided in outdoor settings also helps to relieve stress and tension in children.
- Develop relationships with peers. Team games such as football and rugby, or even playground games such as tag are usually played outside where there is enough space for children to run around without being constricted or cramped. Encouraging these games helps children to build stronger relationships with their peers, an important part of their development as they learn through play.
- Improve creativity. Studies have shown that children who regularly play outside are more imaginative and creative than those who rarely play outdoors. This is because when playing outdoors children rely on their surroundings and their own imaginations for entertainment instead of using gaming consoles or watching television.
- Better understanding of the world. When children are allowed to interact and engage with the basic elements of the world they live in- water, mud, air- they begin to better understand the world surrounding them and how it works. Exposing children to the elements also helps to build stronger immune systems and ultimately healthier children.
- Early association with outdoor activity and fitness. Encouraging your children to regularly take part in outdoor exercise at a young age will help them continue these habits as they grow, helping to keep them healthy as adults too.