Outdoor play can provide tremendous benefits for you and your kids. Beyond the physical aspect, playing outside can help them socialise, engage in independent and imaginative play and explore the outdoors. However, scheduling outdoor time with your kids can become difficult. As busy as your weeks may be, you must prioritise your kids’ health and development. Children need at least 90 minutes per day to be outdoors. Managing this ensures they get the activity they need to develop physically, mentally and emotionally. Here’s why your kids need to play outside each day.
1. Promotes Physical Health
Whether they’re at the playground or a community park, your kids get to have an active lifestyle. Most kids who stay indoors all day increase their risk of obesity, which can lead to diabetes and heart disease. That’s why at every well-visit, your child’s doctor may ask you how many hours of the day your children get to play outside and encourage more outdoor time.
When your kids play outside, they’ll most likely enjoy activities such as jump roping, throwing and kicking balls, running and riding bikes. All these activities contribute to their physical health — allowing them to build muscle and develop vigorous habits.
2. Creates Social and Collaborative Opportunities
One of the greatest benefits of outdoor activities is your children’s ability to learn how to interact with others. Outdoor play offers a chance for kids to grow socially. They form friendships, learn how to respond and use their imaginations to keep each other entertained. In addition, kids who play outside tune into their problem-solving and empathy skills. When one interacts with another, they learn the value of comfort if someone gets hurt.
3. Appreciation for the Outdoors
Most children who spend time outdoors grow their love for nature into adulthood. Moreover, they also consider the environment a priority. That’s because children who play outside learn firsthand about animals, insects and plants. Over time, they appreciate their surroundings and witness all types of activities — such as birds singing and butterflies zooming away.
As they grow their appreciation for nature, their childhood experiences may lead them to more compassion. They may even feel motivated to preserve their environment because of the values they hold into adulthood.
4. Aids in Cognitive Development
While your kids get to run around outside, they get to invent new games, get fresh air and experience independence. During these physical activities, your kids develop cognitive skills such as decision-making and organization. For instance, they might develop new games and create new rules to follow. The more your kids play outside, the more they learn about the importance of creating and following rules.
5. Using All Five Senses
Kids who spend much of their time watching TV use only two senses — sight and hearing. In turn, this inhibits their ability to use all five senses, which is important for processing and responding to sensory stimulation as they grow. Meanwhile, outdoor play gives your kids a chance to engage all of their senses. For example, children get to taste wild blueberries growing in the backyard. Or, they can feel the cold in their hands as they get ready to roll up a snowball. Exploring the outdoors gives kids a chance to familiarize themselves with sensory — that way, they learn how to process them more and continue to develop.
6. Improves Overall Well-Being
Outdoor play provides many mental health benefits to your young ones. When they run around outside, they get the space to clear their mind and have a calmer attitude. It’s also vital that they receive Vitamin D from the sun. It’s an essential vitamin that can support children’s moods and aid depression. In addition to this and burning excess energy, kids feel lighter, have a sense of happiness and can focus better on schoolwork.
Whether you’re going somewhere or staying close to home, ensure you use these activity ideas the next time you go outside with your kids.
- Visit different outdoor places: Consider going to local parks, nearby towns or cities, trails, gardens, zoos, pumpkin patches and wildlife refuges.
- Grow a garden: Start your own garden and let your kids plant vegetable seeds or flowers.
- Play a game: Games like Twister, I Spy or Simon Says are some of the best activities kids love to play.
- Do an outdoor exploration: Consider going on a nature walk and learning about the plants and animals you see around you.
- Create an obstacle course: Make various obstacles, so your kids enjoy activities like jumping, rolling, climbing and crawling.
- Colour the sidewalks: Get creative and enjoy the sun by grabbing chalk and making nifty drawings.
Reap the Benefits of Playing Outdoors
Let your kids spend time outdoors at any chance they get. Consider limiting their inside activities to encourage more outdoor play. Once your kids see how fun it truly is to be outside, they’ll reap all the physical, mental and emotional benefits.