Outdoor Play – Soon becoming a rare sight these days. As a watchful parent we see that our kid prefers spending more time indoors. They sit almost motionless in front of television or playing a video game. We instinctively know that this is not a good health habit. It is of little surprise that a lot of studies have only confirmed what we already know. That our children today are turning to be couch potatoes.
- What is outdoor play?
- Importance of outdoor play
- Benefits of Outdoor play in early years (Explained)
- Note to Parents to encourage outdoor play (Tips and Ideas)
What is outdoor play?
Like the name suggest outdoor play is played outdoors in playgrounds or parks or any place outside. This is one of the most fundamental aspects that defines childhood. You would agree with me when I say this. None of us have grown into adulthood without engaging in hours of outdoor play.
This play needs less adult influence or interruption. However,it needs adult supervision to ensure the kids is playing in a safe environment. This type of play helps kids to initiate hand-on exploration of the world around them.
While yes, I do understand that outdoor play can be more messy than indoor play. But then think of it this way. In a book children can read about a butterfly or a rose and gain knowledge. But when they chase a butterfly or touch a rose there are loads of others things they learn. They engage with the object through all their senses. This brings in meaningful experiences and lasting learning. Plus, messier means more giggles and fun!
Importance of Outdoor Play
- Increases Creativity
- Develops Self – reliance and Independence
- Improves Social skills, respect, and empathy
- Develops Sensory experiences
- Increase environmental awareness
- Increases Focus and promotes problem-solving
- Classroom Learning is reinforced
- Makes children discover and explore
Benefits of Playing Outside for Kids (Explained)
Outdoor Play Increases Creativity:
Playing outside helps kids develop their creativity and fosters innovation. They think of scenarios, invent games foe self-play or group play. They look for play material in their natural environment. Suddenly, a heap of stones, or a lump of clay or a pile of leaves becomes a toy to be played with and explored.
Outdoor play is great for encouraging children’s creativity. It is far from the constraints and confinement of indoor play. Being outside children’s imaginations are often stimulated by the objects around them and that they quickly tap into their creativity.
Outdoor Play Develops Self – reliance and Independence
When your child moves outside to play. Your kids leave the comfort of indoors and ventures out.They go out independently leaving your company to explore and understand the world around them.
The environment is constantly changing, and no two trips outside will be the same. This forces the child to observe and innovate and create new ways of playing and their learning multiplies many folds. This encourages self -reliance.
Kids learn to play with themselves. They pick themselves up then they fall. They find a way to barter unfamiliar equipment, leads a child to not only be self-reliant but also independent.
Outdoor Play Improves Social skills, respect, and empathy
As outdoor spaces are usually less crowded than indoors, it is less intimidating for children. This helps children to naturally come out of their shells and be more social.
It encourages children to find out social skills and the way to interact with other children without adult interference.
When your kid socially interacts with other children, they find out how to take turns in playing games. The kid collaborate and create innovative games. They come out with rules for the same. They attempt to communicate with other children and negotiate their way through and collaborate to achieve desired outcome.
All these interaction whether they are doing, or speaking, or expressing their feelings. It increases their understanding of other living beings. They learn to be empathetic towards others and also while they try to negotiate they learn to communicate their ideas. They also learn to listen and be respectful of others.
Outdoors Develops Sensory experiences
When you kid moves outside to play all his/her senses are awakened. Your child can see clouds and form patterns to feel trees and attempt climbing. They can hear sounds of birds, other children playing etc. They can smell the flowers, touch, and play with sand and rocks. All these sensory experiences opens new experience every time. It build about new ways of thinking while increasing observation and sense of wonder. All this they can only experience by going out and exploring the world around them.
Outdoor Activity Increase environmental awareness
Studies have shown that children learn a lot by playing outside. They develop spatial recognition and start understanding environmental tendencies and learn new concepts.
Simple activities like seeing leaves fall, ants climbing a tree, watching flowers bloom, changing cloud patterns can make such an excellent difference.
Not all time spent outdoors is equal. Nature experiences have a special, restorative effect.
As kids interact with nature the experience gained teaches children to respect and protect their environment.
Kids who spend more time in nature and have positive experience with nature. They tend to express more appreciation for wildlife, and more support for conservation.
We are aware that childhood experiences predict adult behavior. Studies have found positive correlation between childhood time spent outdoors during early childhood and environmentally responsible behavior later in life.
Outdoors Increases Focus and promotes problem-solving
During unstructured activity outdoors the child becomes more aware of its surrounding. When something catches the child’s interest the child starts to focus on that. They pay attention to it. E.g. a caterpillar climbing up a tree. It not only amuses the kid but also increase improving his/her attention span while learning. The kid focuses to unravel the mystery it provides. This can help a child to build their level of focus and attention without the child even realizing it.
Also, while your kid is trying to engage in outdoor play the kid faces a lot of challenges that the environment poses. E.g. Trying to put back together a twig that the kid stepped on and broke. This situation requires some investigation. It needs exploring material to bind the twigs. A strategy. If failed in the attempt, re- strategizing and repeating of this learning cycle.
These learning that they get when they try to solve a problem in a relaxed outdoor setting teaches them a sense of when to stop or when to persevere. It also builds foundation for more complex problem solving that they will require as they grow up.
Classroom Learning is reinforced with outdoor activity
When kids learn to use their five senses and understand the world thank rely on only visual sense. E.g.: If we show a picture of a rose in a textbook or screen. We ask the kid to come up with as many descriptive words as they can to describe a rose. The kid at max can give the flower visual attributes. The kid will fail to describe the thorns present, the smell of the rose, the softness of the petals etc… such teaching will deprive kid of first-hand multi-sensory experience. But when they see a rose then it would teach the kid everything they need to know about roses; viz. their smell, feel, look, and maybe even taste.
“Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.”
John W. Gardner
Such hands-on experiences in the environment helps the kids to make meaningful connection to abstract concepts. It also helps them comprehend what they have read or heard in classroom.
Makes children Discover and Explore
Often outdoor play equipment features poise a little more risk than indoor toys.
Whether it’s encouraging children to use slides they could be a bit afraid to travel down, or to undertake challenging play trails; outdoor play equipment can help children to find out to push their boundaries and become good in danger assessment.
It also teaches them to explore new games. Become confident in learning to undertake new things without being guided by adults.
Note to Parents with Tips to encourage kids to play outside.
There are numerous physical mental and other developmental benefits for kids when they play outside.
We as kids have spent load and loads of time outdoors and do not deny it, it was fun. Hence it is important for us as adults to prioritize and make time for our kids to play outside.
But I do understand that our kids these days are not motivated to go outside and play. Even if weather conditions permit. The influence of electronic gadgets hare holding our kid’s prisoners. I have listed below few proven tricks that can help kids motivated enough to go outside and play.
Tips to encourage kids to play outside:
- Find peers for your kids to play with outdoors.
- Help your kids access safe, outdoor play spaces.
- Accept getting wet or messy
- Do not interfere their play when they try to use natural resource to play if they are safe. E.g. they pick a funny looking stone to explore. Do not go stopping them. If a glass piece yes, it is understandable.
- Restrict Screen Time. Set a limit per day. Even if the kid does not have other activity let it be so. But end the screen time after the allocated time is used.
- Take your kid for a walk in the park or the beach.
- Do gardening with your kid. At least one potted plant that they can take care of.
- Ask kid to bring some item from nature. E.g. Get me a dry leaf, get me a round stone. etc. This will force them to go out and explore.
Outdoor play is a crucial part of childhood life. It is exciting to let visualize children in their natural environment. Outdoor play areas that motivate your children to explore, experiment, and build-up the interactions between peers.
Kids instinctively wish to go outside and play. By getting down and deep and messy they get a feel for how the world works. They understand the world along with all the living and non-living elements it constitutes of. The time spent playing outdoors as a child will also grow into a respect for the outdoors throughout adulthood.
We at the Yellow playschool understand this. We ensure that more than 30% of the school time is spent on outdoor activities. This not only helps our kids make memories and have fun but also help them enjoy while learning.
Did you find this Blog helpful? Are you motivated to send your kid outside to play?
Do let us know your thoughts and suggestions?