by Jenn Chee – Aug.27, 2023
Time to Read: 10 minutes
Hello fellow parents and caregivers! Are you looking for ways to help promote the growth and development of your little ones? Well, look no further than the great outdoors! Outdoor play has been shown to have numerous benefits for young children, and it’s a great way to keep them happy, healthy, and strong.
Exploring the Benefits of Playtime
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of outdoor play. Firstly, it offers a wealth of physical benefits. Running, jumping, climbing, and exploring their environment helps to develop their gross motor skills and coordination.
Not to mention, being outside exposes children to sunlight, which is a crucial source of vitamin D for healthy bone growth. Additionally, physical activity has been shown to reduce the risk of obesity and other chronic illnesses later in life. So, let’s encourage our little ones to get outside and get moving!
Activity Ideas to Keep Them Moving
- Enriching Outdoor Play
- Rainy Day Activities: Embrace the Rain!
- Limited Access to Nature? No Worries!
1. Enhancing Brainpower
But that’s not all – outdoor play also offers cognitive benefits. Being outdoors encourages children to use their imaginations and creativity as they explore their surroundings and engage in unstructured play. And studies have shown that outdoor play can improve attention span, problem-solving skills, and overall academic performance. So, not only is it fun to play outside, but it’s also great for their brain development!
2. Emotional Balance
Not only do kids reap physical and cognitive benefits, outdoor play has emotional benefits for young children. Spending time in nature has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. And let’s face it, we could all use a little stress relief these days! Additionally, outdoor play has been linked to improved self-esteem and overall mood. So, if your little ones are feeling down, encourage them to go outside and soak up some nature.
3. GROW SOCIAL SKILLS TOO
You’re getting the idea now. Outdoor play gives kids a literal player’s buff and boost in their physical, brain and also social development. Playing outside with others encourages teamwork, communication, and empathy. And outdoor play allows children to engage in unstructured play, which can help foster independence and decision-making skills. So, let’s get our little ones together for some outdoor fun and watch their social skills blossom!
4. The Great Outdoors: Accessible to All
The great outdoors offer physical, cognitive, emotional, and social benefits that can have a lasting impact on our children’s lives. As parents and caregivers, we should encourage and facilitate outdoor play as much as possible for our little ones. So let’s get outside and enjoy all the benefits nature has to offer!
Enriching Outdoor Play
Here are some ways parents and caregivers can incorporate outdoor play into a child’s routine:
- Take a walk:
A simple walk around the block can be a great way to get outside and enjoy some fresh air. Try pointing out interesting things along the way, like flowers or birds, to keep your child engaged.
- Play at the park:
Most communities have local parks with playground equipment and open space for running and exploring. Make a point to visit the park regularly to give your child an opportunity to play and socialize with others.
- Have a backyard scavenger hunt:
Create a list of things to find in the backyard, like rocks, leaves, or insects, and challenge your child to find them all. This is a great way to get them moving and learning about the natural world.
- Ride bikes or scooters:
Riding bikes or scooters is a fun and active way to get outside and explore the neighborhood. Make sure your child wears a helmet and stays in safe areas.
- Plant a garden:
Growing a garden is a great way to teach children about nature and responsibility. You can start with a small container garden or even a windowsill herb garden.
- Play in the sand:
If you live near a beach or have access to a sandbox, playing in the sand can be a fun sensory experience for young children. Bring along some buckets and shovels for even more fun.
- Go on a nature hike:
Take a hike on a local nature trail to explore the outdoors and learn about the natural world. Make sure to bring along plenty of water and snacks.
Fun Outdoor Activities for Kids
- Have a picnic:
Pack a lunch or snacks and head to a local park or beach for a picnic. This is a great way to enjoy the outdoors while also spending time together as a family.
- Play outdoor games:
There are many classic outdoor games that are fun for all ages, like tag, hide and seek, and hopscotch. These games encourage physical activity and socialization.
- Take a camping trip:
Camping is a great way to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature. Even a simple camping trip in the backyard can be a fun and memorable experience for young children.
Rainy Day Activities: Embrace the Rain!
But, I know what you may be thinking – what if it’s raining outside? Be brave and embrace the rain is one way to go about it.
- Jump in puddles:
On rainy days, put on rain boots and a raincoat and head outside to jump in puddles. This can be a fun and active way to enjoy the rain.
- Make a mud kitchen:
Set up a designated area in the backyard where your child can play with mud, water, and kitchen utensils. This is a great sensory experience that can keep them occupied for hours.
Limited Access to Nature? No Worries!
But what if we live in an area with limited access to nature? Well, fear not! We can still give our kids the benefits of incorporating more play into their day. Here are some suggestions to try out:
- Indoor obstacle course:
Create an indoor obstacle course using pillows, furniture, and other household items. This can be a fun way to get your child moving and burn off energy when it’s too rainy to go outside.
- Dance party:
Put on some music and have a dance party in the living room. This is a great way to get your child moving and improve their mood on a gloomy day.
- Indoor scavenger hunt:
Create a list of things to find around the house, like a red sock or a picture frame, and challenge your child to find them all. This can be a fun and engaging activity on a rainy day.
- Board games:
Set up a board game or card game tournament for your child and their friends. This can be a great way to socialize and enjoy some indoor fun.
- Build a fort:
Use blankets, pillows, and furniture to build a fort in the living room. This can be a fun and imaginative way to pass the time on a rainy day.
- Bake together:
Spend some time in the kitchen baking together. This can be a fun and educational activity that teaches your child about measuring, following directions, and healthy eating.
- Create an indoor garden:
Use pots and soil to create an indoor garden for herbs or small plants. This can be a great way to teach your child about nature and responsibility.
These are just a few ideas for incorporating outdoor play into a child’s routine when the weather is bad. The most important thing is to stay active and engaged, even when you can’t go outside.
So, let’s make a commitment to prioritize outdoor play in our little one’s lives. Not only is it a fun way to spend time together, but it’s also great for their overall health and development. Let’s get outside and have some fun!
RESOURCES FOR PARENTS:
Here are some great resources for parents and caregivers who want to learn more about the benefits of outdoor play:
- Parents Magazine:
This popular parenting publication has numerous articles on the benefits of outdoor play for children of all ages. They offer practical advice on how to incorporate outdoor play into your child’s routine, as well as tips for keeping them safe and engaged.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics:
This trusted organization has a wealth of information on the importance of play, including outdoor play. Their website offers tips for parents and caregivers, as well as research and policy statements on the subject. Check out their article “The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds” for more information.
- Scholastic Parent & Child:
Scholastic is a well-known name in the world of education, and their Parent & Child publication is a great resource for parents looking for information on child development. They offer articles on the benefits of outdoor play, as well as ideas for outdoor activities that are both fun and educational.
- Today’s Parent:
This Canadian parenting magazine has a variety of articles on the benefits of outdoor play, including advice on how to make the most of outdoor time with your child. They also offer resources for parents looking for local outdoor activities and events.
- National Wildlife Federation:
This organization is dedicated to protecting wildlife and wild places, but they also recognize the importance of outdoor play for children. Their website offers tips for parents and caregivers, as well as resources for educators looking to incorporate nature-based learning into their curriculum.
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