Outdoor play was a core part of many of our childhood experiences. Natural parenting is all about knowing what’s best for your child, as well as helping them to learn both about the world around them, as well as interact with it, in a way that suits them the best it can. So, why is outdoor play important?
There are many benefits to outdoor play, as it helps them to learn about their environment, it can improve their health, encourage socialization and help them to learn key socialization skills, encourages them to learn about their imagination, and gives them a great opportunity to really get stuck in, even if it gets a little messy.
Dirt is just dirt, right?
Why Is Outdoor Play Important?
Let’s take a look at the many reasons why outdoor play is important for kids:
Gives Them The Opportunity To Explore And Learn About Their Environment
By encouraging your child to engage in outdoor play, you also encourage them to both explore and learn about the environment and the world around them.
Your child is given the opportunity to learn about all sorts of things that they can’t whilst indoors.
Outdoor play gives them the opportunity to ask questions about the things that they observe, allowing them to get an even stronger grasp of how the world around them works.
Even things such as crossing roads with you whilst on the way to the park can help them to learn about road safety.
Going outside to play allows them to learn new about the space around them, and it helps to give them a good sense of their surroundings.
It’s Good For Learning About Science And Nature
This may seem like an extension of the point above, but it’s an important one, nonetheless.
Outdoor play is important for kids as it allows children to get their hands dirty, get up close with all of the creepy crawlies, and take in the beauty of nature whilst doing so.
Not only do plants and flowers provide a scenic backdrop, but they also provide the grounds for exploration and learning on multiple levels.
By planting flowers or creating a closed ecosystem by collecting the necessary objects for a terrarium, your child can learn how different insects live, or what ingredients a plant needs in order to grow and thrive.
Whilst you could teach them about these concepts in a classroom, seeing them in a hands-on environment is a much more engaging way of getting them to learn about the great outdoors.
They can also learn about concepts like climate change and the effects that we, as humans, can have on our planet.
Outdoor play is important for teaching your child to understand why we must be responsible for our environment, and it may encourage them to be more eco-friendly in the way that they live when they are older.
You can teach them about things like cars and emissions, weather, insect behavior, and the life-cycle of a plant, all by taking a little adventure outside.
Outdoor Play Is Important For Their Health
Running around outdoors is always a good thing – it’s good for their health!
The opportunities to build up a sweat are far limited inside compared to the options your child has outside. Often, a child will take part in physically exerting activities without you even needing to ask them – all you need to do is let them have a run outside!
Of course, these opportunities aren’t limited to just running. Your child might have a bike that they enjoy riding, or they can play with the equipment available at the park, such as the climbing wall.
Playing with things such as chalk, and creating ‘hopscotch’ steps numbered from one to ten can be a great way to bring out their inner creativity, whilst getting them to do a little exercise.
Outdoor play is an important part of a child’s ability to incorporate a healthy routine into their daily lives.
Outdoor Play Is Important To Learn How To Socialize
Whether it’s playing with other kids in the park, or with your neighbors’ children, it’s long been known that outdoor play is an excellent way for young children to make friends.
It provides them with a number of different stimuli to strike up a conversation with, as well as plenty of opportunities for teamwork.
Children are presented with further opportunities to share whilst outdoors, or be patient with each other. Whether it’s allowing another child a go on their bike, working together when deciding which activity they would like to do, or slowing down so that they can allow a different child to catch up.
They are presented with all sorts of opportunities that allow them to work on their social skills and become better communicators.
Playing in the playground allows for so many activities that might not be as fun or accessible indoors – for example, playing hide and go seek can be a much better experience in the playground than it might be in a small room.
Outdoor play games like soccer will help them to learn the advantages of being in a team and good communication, whilst also allowing them to work on physical skills, such as their spatial awareness and coordination.
Outdoor Play Will Help Them To Burn Energy
Of course, encouraging your child to partake in outdoor play also encourages them to burn off any extra energy that might still be bubbling around inside of them otherwise.
Sitting around indoors all day does very little to get your children to burn off all of the energy that they are known to have.
A lack of outdoor play may lead to additional hyperactivity or frustration that can make your life more difficult. Sometimes, all you need to do is get them dressed, put them in a coat and get some outdoor shoes on, and a lot of their frustrations can disappear.
By getting your kids to play outside, they’ll be stimulated enough that, come bedtime, they’re ready to close their eyes and rest up for another day of fun, learning, and creativity.
Outdoor Play Allows Them To Use Their Imagination
Outdoor play allows your child to use their imagination in a way that indoor play may not allow. Whilst indoor play can have its perks for imaginative play, outdoor play is another ballpark altogether – with so much space, it really does take a child’s big imagination to fill it!
The outdoors can be used in all sorts of ways to allow your child to fully harness their imagination – this could be anything from having an adventure through the woods, telling a story as you go, to pretending to be the king or queen at the top of the equipment in the playground.
Utilizing play equipment can go a long way here – tents, small swimming pools, and treehouses are all fantastic ways of getting your child to engage their imagination.
Encouraging your child to enjoy outdoor play activities is an important tool in engaging their imaginative spirit.
Outdoor Play Is Important To Learn About Safety
Outdoor play can inevitably lead to a few bruises and grazes.
Such a vast amount of space will provide your child with the room to run around, meaning that they will undoubtedly fall over.
But this can be a positive reason why outdoor play is important for kids, helping them to learn that they need to be careful and that they can’t run too fast.
Of course, avoiding injuries is always paramount, but avoiding absolutely every single one is impossible – but with the silver lining of providing your children with an opportunity to learn.
Outdoor play gives you the opportunity to discuss topics like road safety, and stranger danger with children – both of which are incredibly important topics that every child needs to know about growing up.
Playing outside allows you to advise and instruct your children as they explore the world under your supervision – and it also gives you an idea of how you can expect them to interact with the world, meaning you can pinpoint places you need to help educate your child.
They Won’t Be Scared Of A Bit Of Dirt
Getting your children to enjoy outdoor play will also help them to get more comfortable with being mucky. Some children have issues with getting dirt on them, so encouraging them to play outside is a way of helping them to see that a little bit of mud really isn’t the end of the world.
Of course, you can make this easier for them by packing clean clothes in case they really are uncomfortable, but getting them to at least enjoy being outside, despite the dirt, is always a plus in this area.
Getting a bit messy is by far one of the best parts of being a child, and is also really important in their development, as it allows them to understand that not everything needs to be perfect all of the time.
Things like snowball fights and outdoor messy play with paint can really help to reinforce this.
If you want to find more ways of enriching your child’s life with opportunities to learn about the world around them, outdoor play is a really important aspect of this area of learning.
Playing outside allows your child to observe and ask questions about things they might not observe or ask about otherwise, as well as helping them to learn important key skills like teamwork, risk-assessment and communication skills.
It can also help to improve their health and fitness, and give them a really good understanding of different topics that they can learn about in a hands-on environment.
For example, planting seeds and using rainwater to water them can help them to learn both about the lifecycle of a plant and the role the weather plays in nature.
There are so many good reasons to get your kids to play outside, it would be impossible to list them all in this article. But hopefully, we have covered some of the main reasons why outdoor play is important for kids. So, why not? Put some shoes on and let your child’s imagination soar.