Outdoor play is an important part of childhood. It’s exciting to see children in their natural environment – exploring their surroundings, being curious about what’s around them and finding joy in seeing new things. As a child, I always remember running around the park, digging and dumping sand in the sandbox, and climbing up and going down the slide.
It is sad to see children spending less time outside. A recent study in the UK found that children today spend half of the time outside compared to their parents. As an educator, I know how vital outdoor play is to a child’s overall development and learning. Studies have shown that children can learn a lot from playing outdoors – from improved spatial recognition to simply understanding environmental tendencies. Simple activities such as seeing leaves change, running and jumping in rain puddles, or watching the flowers sprout during the spring, can make such a great difference.
The Benefits of Outdoor Play
Outdoor play improves physical development
Physical skills are important for growth, physical coordination and the movement of the body. When children play outdoors they increase their ability to balance, jump, climb, throw, run and skip.
More friends! (aka improved social development)
Outdoor play provides children with the opportunity to gain social skills by interacting, collaborating and negotiating with others.
Being outdoors gives children the opportunity to pretend to be anything they want, for example, to be a bear in the wild or a chef in the kitchen.
Gain knowledge and appreciation for the natural world
Children learn about the natural elements and their surroundings when they are outside. For example, they learn about the weather, the change in seasons, and different animals that are found outside.