There are lots of different styles of play and that parents are recommended to facilitate for their children in order to help with their development.
One of them is playing outdoors in nature, but why is this so important? Why is playing in nature good for kids? What do children gain from spending time outdoors, and why should parents encourage this type of play?
We have put together this useful guide to help you understand the benefits of your children playing in nature, and to give you some ideas to get you started.
Why Is Playing In Nature Good For Kids?
Playing in nature is good for kids for many reasons, but especially for their confidence. Playing in a new environment can help to build your child’s confidence.
They interact with the space around them differently and experiment with new ideas and games that they would not try indoors.
Getting outdoors, exploring, and playing in nature also gives kids a sense of adventure which is good for their confidence levels. This is why it is important to take your children to different places for them to play outdoors, not just in their own backyard.
Getting outdoors and into nature provides kids with a different backdrop for their imaginary games. This gives them different inspiration and allows them to be more creative.
They might see a collection of trees with clearing and imagine a house or a castle.
They could see a boulder and turn it into a dinosaur or a troll. They could pick up a stick and use it as a sword, or gallop their imaginary horse across the sandy beach.
The possibilities are endless and this is another reason why playing in nature is good for kids.
When you get out into nature with your children, you can teach them about the importance of leaving things as you found them.
Get them to help you clean up after you picnic and put any litter in the bin, and teach them about the different animals that rely on this natural habitat.
Playing in nature is good for kids as it is a great way for your child to learn more about the world around them. They are likely to get curious and may start asking you more and more questions.
Don’t panic if you don’t know the answers- this is an opportunity for you to learn together.
It sounds quite basic, but more of your child’s senses will be engaged when they get outdoors into nature. Playing in nature is good for kids as not only will they see different things, they will also be able to smell the plants and the soil.
They will feel the rough bark of a tree or dip their fingers in a cold stream. They will hear the birdsong or the wind rustling through the leaves.
This makes the experience of playing in nature much more immersive than a video game, and also makes them tired and helps them to sleep better at night.
All of these things are also proven to reduce stress, making your child much happier. You can encourage your child to use nature as a comfort – take them outdoors if they are feeling upset or have had a bad day.
Get them to focus on what they can see, what they can hear, what they can smell.
This will distract them from what is upsetting them and is a basic introduction to the practice of mindfulness which they can develop as they get older.
One of the most obvious benefits to getting your children to play in nature is that they will be living a more active lifestyle than if they just played indoors.
Walking through the woods, running through a field, collecting leaves, splashing in the sea – all of these things get your children moving.
This helps them get stronger and improves their balance and coordination. Spending time outside also increases your child’s levels of vitamin D, and can improve their immune system.
Don’t be afraid to let them get a little dirty – it is good for children to experience the true outdoors and get a bit muddy and is a real example of why playing in nature is good for kids
Sometimes you will set out on a walk and it will start to rain. You might still be some distance from the car. Your child might get frustrated, but learning to be resilient and to rise up to a challenging set of circumstances is an important part of their development. It is a key way in which playing in nature is good for kids
Encourage them, praise them for pushing on, and when you all get home you can change into some dry clothes and make some hot cocoa to enjoy. These experiences are very character building for children.
Now that you understand why playing in nature is good for kids and why it is important for your children to spend some time playing outdoors, here are some ideas to help your family spend more time outdoors.
There is nothing better than a family walk in the woods. Make it more exciting and teach your children about nature by setting them a challenge to gather different kinds of leaves.
You can even take them home and make a leaf rubbing picture. You can also get them to find pinecones, or to spot different kinds of birds.
You don’t have to wait for the sun to come out to go to the beach. Get toggled up in your coats and boots and go for a wintry walk on the beach.
If you have wellies and the water is safe you can even splash and stomp in the shallow waves. See if you can find any nice shells or pretty pebbles on the beach.
When your children are a bit older, they should have the stamina for some longer walks, perhaps a hike with excellent views. If they are careful, you could let them have a go at taking a few photographs of the scenery.
If your children like drawing, pack up some paper and pencils and walk to a nice spot with a good view. You could take some camping chairs or a blanket, then sit down and draw some of the things that you can see.
It is also important to let your children play outdoors without structured activities. This gives them the chance to use their imagination and play creative games.
Whilst being in nature is ideal, spending any time outdoors is very beneficial. One parent could walk with your child to the grocery store instead of driving, and the other parent could pick you both up with all of the shopping.
If you have wondered why playing in nature is good for kids, then hopefully in this article we have given you lots of reasons as to why.
So get out there and start exploring with your kids. There are so many benefits to playing in nature which will be so good for your kids and for you.