Do you remember the days of playing outside when you were a kid? The times when you’d run around, inventing games, riding bikes, and climbing trees until the sun started to set… There was always a feeling of happy exhaustion after this kind of active play. After dinner you’d be straight off to bed, and rise with the sun the next day to do it all again. Nowadays, children are more likely to spend time in front of a tablet or a gaming device than outside with the wind in their hair. Playtime has moved indoors.
There are lots of different reasons why children aren’t spending nearly as much time in natural surrounds as they once did. It’s understandable to be concerned with safety, but mollycoddling kids too much has led to an increase in conditions that adversely affect their health and learning abilities. These conditions include asthma, dyspraxia, and obesity. There’s even a new term to describe these adverse development traits – natural deficit disorder.
There is a growing body of evidence that supports the importance of outdoor play for kid’s development. Read on for an overview of all the benefits of encouraging kids to play in the great outdoors. This includes boosts to your child’s learning ability, as well as encouraging an appreciation for an active lifestyle early on in their lives.
Part of the wonderful things about playing outside is that it appeals to kids’ sense of curiosity as they connect with nature. Learning about new things like the lifecycle of a butterfly or why the leaves fall in autumn are super interesting for children, and learning new things can also give them a confidence boost.
As kids run around outside, they’re often free from their parents’ ears and involvement. This gives children the chance to talk amongst themselves and develop confidence with themes of phonology, grammar, and syntax. It’s also a great opportunity for their imaginations to run wild.
Outdoor play also provides a good setting for kids to develop their capacity to relate to one another. Again, outdoor play has another benefit to kids, thanks to the freedom from adult involvement. Children playing in groups outside are able to develop their own friendships and ways to engage socially, than they would be able to with their parents supervising their playdates.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure this one out. Playing chasing games, clambering through streams, and running around outside are an awesome way to keep your kids active. It’s important that they connect physical activity as a good experience from a young age, as it can be incredibly difficult to learn to enjoy physical activity if you have already established inactive habits in adulthood.
The advantage of outdoor play is that it doesn’t feel like exercise. Rather than a set activity or sport, playing outside will get kids engaged in motor and manipulative activities without them appearing like a chore or obligation.
One of the biggest reasons that kids are cooped up indoors is that their parents are worried about their safety. Rightly so! Stranger danger and busy roads are certainly things to be avoided in order to protect your kids. Here are some ideas that can help your kids play outside safely and give them some street smarts.