The Benefits of Outdoor Play for Children

School children playing cricket on a field

Outdoor play offers children many benefits, from encouraging their curiosity to developing social skills; making time for playing outside is just as important as their academic development.

Whether your child spends time outside at home or during their time at our independent school in Devon, it is a vital part of their education, their growth, and what makes them who they are. So, it is essential to create time for them to explore. Here are just a few of the benefits that children can experience when playing outside.

Encourages Creativity and Curiosity

Children are amazed by the smallest of things and can take inspiration from almost anywhere. Being outdoors promotes their creativity, whether through playing and building in the sand during the summer or throwing leaves in the air in the autumn; there’s so much on offer to spur the creative minds of the next generation.

The open spaces and lack of constraints mean that children are free to explore as much as they like, under the guidance of our teachers, following wherever their curiosity takes them.

Child playing with a football

Improves Social Skills

Social skills are vital for a child’s development, particularly when it comes to their personality. Socialising in different environments helps children to learn more about different situations where challenges might be posed. For example, learning to take turns on a slide, play safely, and look out for one another outdoors will help develop a child’s social skills away from direct adult supervision. Playing with other students also allows the children to make new friends and explore new experiences.

Allows a New Perspective

The expansive spaces awaiting children outside can often provide them with newfound confidence as their curiosity gets the better of them, and they forget about their feelings of fear, within reason, of course.

Activities such as observing the changes of seasons and exploring the vast open spaces can help children see the bigger picture and learn in awe about the world around them.

Why is Outside Play Important for Early Years

Improve Their Physical Health

Not only is playing outdoors good for a child’s cognitive development, but it is also beneficial for the development of their bodies. Spending time climbing a frame, running, and challenging their bodies on an obstacle course will help strengthen their muscles. This improves their ability to adapt to different situations and increases their fitness levels.

It is easier for both parents and teachers alike to encourage children to be active outdoors, particularly with games and activities. Something as simple as going for a 30-minute walk will help to improve their stamina, strengthen their muscles and give them a sense of enjoyment in the great outdoors.

Children climbing outside

Refines Motor Skills

Playing outdoors gives children a wide array of objects to play with, helping them develop their fine and gross motor skills. From building delicate towers in the sandpit to climbing up a tree, every activity available will help them develop their motor skills in one way or another. In the first five years of a child’s development, it is paramount that they have many opportunities to engage with objects and experiences to develop these skills.

Increased Levels of Happiness

It’s scientifically proven that the outdoors makes us happy. The high-quality air, especially here in Devon, vitamin D from the warming sunshine and the natural beauty all around stimulate the happy hormones within our brains and improve our mood. 

Additionally, children can release any built-up energy and frustrations positively by running and playing freely, which also means that they should sleep better at night and retain a happier mood in the long term.

Increases Cognitive Development

Outdoor play can significantly contribute to cognitive development in children by providing diverse sensory stimuli, fostering imaginative play, and promoting problem-solving skills. The natural environment stimulates decision-making while also improving spatial awareness.

These are only some of the main benefits of playing outdoors for children. As parents, teachers, and guardians, we too can enjoy these benefits from engaging with our children outdoors. 

Set aside time to play outdoors as often as possible, even in the winter, to help your child have a greater level of happiness and encourage their personal, social, and cognitive development.


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