Why is Outdoor Play important!
Do you remember as a child, those long sultry days playing in the sunshine; running around with the dog; playing ball; climbing trees; picnicking in the woods or skipping rope with your friends?. Remember your Mum saying “away you go out and play” and staying out until it got dark or you were called in for dinner?. Did it do us any harm? No, not even when we ate wild strawberries or carrots without washing them or used a blade of long grass for a whistle that had ‘cuckoo spit’ on it. We had frequent snotty noses and permanently cut knees but we were happy and healthy and nothing really bad ever happened to us.
Can the same be said for our children?? Sadly the answer is no! More and more in recent years children are finding more sedentary indoor play. More television, video and computer games. Technological advances have led to greater access to social media on phones and tablets and this coupled with increased fear amongst adults in relation to children’s safety, mean that sadly it is becoming increasingly rare to see children laughing and playing together out of doors.
Here’s why the benefits of outdoor play outweigh the risks
- Outdoor play supports the development of healthy and active lifestyles. Because it offers children opportunities for physical activity, freedom and movement. Which therefore promotes a sense of well-being.
- Outdoor play improves mood and helps with depression and stress. Problems which are increasing amongst our children.
- Learning outside gives children contact with the natural world and offers them experiences that are unique to outdoors. Such as direct contact with the weather and the seasons – making the rain gauge and measuring the rainfall. Splashing in the puddles and standing letting the snowflakes fall on your face.
- Playing outside helps children to understand and respect nature, the environment and the interdependence of humans, animals, plants, and life cycles – remember when we used to watch bugs on the grass; ants scurrying along; spiders with their babies on their backs; hold butterflies and count the spots on ladybirds?
- Outdoor play also supports children’s problem-solving skills and nurtures their creativity, as well as providing rich opportunities for their developing imagination, inventiveness and resourcefulness – remember making that tent with sticks and an old blanket or the den with cardboard boxes?
- Very young children learn predominately through their sensory and physical experiences. Outdoor play with its sensory range and vast opportunity for physical play, supports brain developments.
- Outdoor play helps children learn to assess risk and develop the skills to manage new situations.
- Learning indoors can be developed outdoors. Biology and geography about the world around us can be built on, thus the teaching becomes real. Creating much more interest and enthusiasm in learning.
- Anyone who takes children outside regularly sees the enjoyment. The sense of wonder and excitement that is generated when children actively engage with their environment.
Studies have shown that outdoor play creates healthier, happier children, who suffer less physical and mental illnesses!