Importance of Outdoor Play
Playing outdoors changes a child's environment for learning so they are not always in the same room. Research has proven that child-led play actually helps their brain development meaning they can retain information more easily; it also helps children develop muscle strength and gain self-confidence.
Research shows that there is a direct correlation between the rise in childhood obesity and the fact that children are not spending enough time outdoors. This has been in the news again recently with figures showing the majority of parents with an overweight child did not realise that their child was overweight. As one headline stated: 'Parents hardly ever spot obesity in their children, resulting in damaging consequences for health, doctors warn. In a study of 2,976 families in the UK, only four parents thought their child was very overweight. Medical assessments put the figure at 369.'
Guidelines actually suggest that as soon as children can walk on their own they should be getting at least 3 hours of light and energetic physical activity each day. Children need lots of variety of play as a part of their growth and development.
In the UK we have many variations of weather and getting outdoors can seem like a rarity. Yet, children usually don't mind playing in the rain as it gives them a chance for adventure - to splash around and play in puddles. They also get to use all of their senses; some of which they may not be able to use indoors. Just a simple umbrella, snowsuit or raincoat and wellington boots can make going outside in difficult weather much easier.
As well as going outside, you can also bring the outdoors in. Why not grab some leaves, sticks or anything else natural and interesting you can find outside? There are lots of activities you can play using these kinds of resources.
Other key reasons outside play are beneficial to children are:
- It's a perfect way to burn off energy so cuts out hyperactive spells and fidgeting
- Offers a chance for social interaction and surroundings
- Builds creative skills
- Helps develop own awareness of risk
There are some great links below which give some great tips and ideas on ways to help get children active and healthy outdoors.