Benefits of Outdoor Play for Kids
Kids play differently at various life stages. However diverse their interests can be depending on the developmental stage, children of all ages benefit from outdoor play.
For many babies outdoor activities start in the nearest playground, but long before that they might have enjoyable tummy time on a picnic blanket or crawl on the grass during a family nature outing. Toddlers would love to play with sand, making sand pies and castles, or take their favourite push and pull toys to explore the space outside. Preschoolers get more fun playing with their peers and prefer a game of hide-and-seek or hunting for treasure, and even invent their own games. And - of course! – they all like riding a bike – the farther, the better! School children get engaged in outdoor sport activities and learn to play in a team. And very soon the whole family will enjoy playing basketball or football in the yard together with their young sportsman.
Leading by example, parents can encourage outdoor activities in young children and develop a healthy attitude about maintaining an active lifestyle, which is very important for physical well-being. Playing outside, kids are more likely to move in ways that challenge their muscles, bones and physical endurance. Therewith, they improve coordination, balance and agility.
Outdoor games often require imagination and teamwork, which helps the little ones develop the skills they need to play successfully with many different children, have positive interactions with each other and make friends. This contributes greatly to kids’ social development and also makes them stronger emotionally.
Spending time in playgrounds, in parks, in the forest, on the river bank, children develop observational and reasoning skills. They implement their own creative ideas through solving problems and practice their decision-making skills. And as soon as they start inventing their own games, they learn more about the importance of setting and following rules.
When the little ones spend time outside, they get a chance to be independent and take risks as well as address their fears - figuring out what they’re capable of doing, for example, climbing trees, swinging or jumping high.
Besides, children get to know more about nature through all the five senses! They listen to birds in the woods, watch flying and crawling insects, feed squirrels and ducks, smell flowers, touch trees, grass and taste berries in the garden in summer or – as it often happens at an early age - snowflakes in winter. Spending a lot of time outdoors, youngsters learn to appreciate the environment. As they grow, they feel motivated to preserve the spaces they loved as children because they’ve experienced the value.
Rain or shine, outdoor games and activities are beneficial to kids in many respects and favour development of physically healthy, well-rounded, independent and sensible individuals.