Research unveils time and time again the benefits that can be experienced by children (and adults) by spending more time playing in the great outdoors. As the list of benefits grows, people are waking up and realising the importance of play in this kind of environment, and viewing the wonderful world we live in as one big playground for kids!
Whether your child spends time outside at home or during their time at our independent preparatory school; it is a vital part of their education, their growth and making them who they are. So, it is essential to make 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 creativity, whether it is through playing and building in the sand during the summer, or throwing leaves in the air in the autumn; there is so much on offer to spur on the creative minds of the next generation. The open spaces and lack of constraints mean that children are free to explore with their minds as much as they like, following wherever their curiosity takes them.
Improves Social Skills
Social skills are a vital element to the development of a child, particularly of their personality; and socialising in different environments helps them to learn more about different situations where challenges might be posed. For example, learning to take turns on a slide, to play safely and look out for one another outdoors will help to develop a child’s social skills away from direct adult supervision. The opportunities to meet new people at the beach or the local play park also gives the children the chance to make new friends and explore new experiences!
Allows a New Perspective
The expansive spaces awaiting children outside can often provide them with a new found confidence as their curiosity gets the better of them and they forget about their feelings of fear. Activities such as observing the changes of seasons and exploring the vast open spaces can help a child to see the bigger picture and learn in awe about the world around them.
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 to 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. By doing so, the risk of obesity is reduced.
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!
Refine Motor Skills
Playing outdoors gives children a wide array of objects to play with, helping them to develop both their fine and gross motor skills. From building delicate towers in the sandpit to climbing up a tree, every activity available will help them to develop their motor skills in one way or another. In the first five years of a child’s development, it is of paramount importance that they have a plethora of opportunities to engage with objects and experiences to develop these skills.
Increased Levels of Happiness
It is scientifically proven that the outdoors makes us happy. The high-quality air, vitamin D from the warming sunshine and the natural beauty all around stimulates the happy hormones within our brains and improves our mood. Additionally, children can release any built up energy and frustrations in a positive manner by running and playing freely, which also means that they should sleep better at night, and retain a happier mood in the long-term!
Although these are some of the main benefits of playing outdoors for children, as parents, teachers and guardians, we too can enjoy these benefits from spending time outdoors engaging with our children. Make sure that you set aside time to play outdoors as often as possible – even in the winter – to help your child to develop and have a greater level of happiness!