Many parents find themselves feeling nostalgic about their own childhoods, seemingly endless days full of adventure, exploring and amusing yourself which left everyone tired but satisfied at the end of every day. It’s impossible not to compare that childhood with one where tech is king, and kids spend much of their free time inside and physically inactive.
Due to fears of traffic, strangers, or whatever else, children are being denied the chance to enjoy the great outdoors with even a small amount of unsupervised freedom, and consequently, they are missing out on a lot of really important benefits that offers.
What kids get from playing outside
1) A better attention span
Playing outside lets their imaginations grow and take over, so play can be differently paced, rather than the short bursts of intense focus that things like games consoles and TV shows deliver. This is a benefit to all children, including those with recognized conditions such as ADHD – the basic truth is that kids need to play outside.
2) Better social skills
Through outdoor play, they learn how to meet and get along with unfamiliar children, as well as practicing social skills with peers.
3) Better health
Not only from the exposure to Vitamin D, but in the form of stress relief from exerting energy, and of course, all the benefits of simply being physically active such as bone strength, weight control etc. Playing outside is even said to reduce the chances of them becoming nearsighted, or improve the condition if it already exists.
4) Better sensory skills
Children learn through their senses, particularly when they are young. The outside play exposes them to things they can see, hear, touch, smell and taste, and exploring those leads to a better-balanced child, with curiosity and a desire to learn more.
Ways to play outdoors
Make the most of your own outside space.
Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to have a huge yard for their children to play in, but even a small area can be adapted to suit your children as they grow up. Sandpits and mini-pools are great attractions, as are slide and swing sets, climbing frames, and trampolines. Less active play outside is fun and beneficial too –like a dolly tea party, putting together a jigsaw, or messy play like art and stone painting.
Make use of parks and other shared facilities
A leisurely family bike or scooter ride around your neighborhood gets kids out on their bikes, or you could take these things to the park, where there is usually space for ball games and Frisbee throwing, or even for water spray games. Teach your kids to roller skate – or have ago yourself too, they’ll love it.
It’s natural to worry about children playing out alone, but when they are young you can supervise them from home or from a seat at the park. Giving them the chance to benefit from all the great things playing outside can and does offer.