Surprising Benefits of Outdoor Play

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We had earlier looked at play and its types. (Add ‘Types of play observed during preschool years’ as internal link on the blog) Play is often categorized as Indoor play and Outdoor play. Indoor play consists of various games and activities designed for children and adults to play inside four walls of schools/house. They somehow have their benefits yet limits children’s development in a few ways.

On the other hand, outdoor play refers to games and activities played in an open environment or a playground. According to Sutterby and Frost (2002), too many educators, politicians, and parents believe outdoor play takes time away from academic activities. As a result of which many preschools and schools have now limited or rather eliminated outdoor play from their curriculum. What are your views over this?

We do not support the above statement. We are educators and we strongly recommend that outdoor play should remain an integral part of the children’s development. As parents and educators one should reflect back and analysis how we grew up? Did we then had access to Television or indoor games and amenities this often?  No, we spent most of the childhood playing games outdoor, playing in the mud, enjoying the sunshine, rolling, jumping and running across the fields. Then why don’t we let our children enjoy the same experience. It is though not a very easy task to arrange outdoor play for young children but we cannot even disregard its importance.

Parents should ensure two responsibilities with regards to outdoor play:

  1. Allowing considerable amount of time for outdoor play in their children’s schedule and encouraging them to engage in different games outdoor.
  2. Ensuring to admit them to a preschool that has good facilities for outdoor play.

There are some surprising benefits of outdoor play:

  1. Learning about the environment: Learning that takes place outdoor stays with children for long term and is effective. Outdoor play is one of the best ways in which children can learn about different things, their importance and function in the world around them. For example, they experience about different climates and how it feels, learn about different animals/birds and their sounds, life cycles etc.
  1. Connection with nature: Children are often observed to be close to nature and they are always seen to be joyful in the laps of nature. The more children spend time outdoors the more they learn to appreciate the nature around them – birds, animals, plants, flowers, clouds etc. They also eventually learn the sensitivity of nature and learns to care and respect the environment.
  1. Risk-takers: Outdoor play offers opportunities for children to do trial and error with different materials available outside. This can often involve risk. For example, the child tries to jump on a concrete cemented ground surface. Accidentally if falls and get hurts, he learns that such a tough surface can be harmful for him. Adults should contribute here by helping children take decisions deliberately.
  1. Physical development: Playing outdoors keeps children active. A simple game with a big ball or a small one can lead to activity of various kinds. The active body can have strong immune system and thus can fight diseases. The outdoor activities also greatly increases chances of developing gross motor skills, It helps develop better coordination, balance and locomotor skills.
  1. Boosts academic performance: Extremely surprising, but yes a study conducted by National Wildlife Federation reported that 78% teachers believed that children who spent regular time in unstructured outdoor play have more concentration and perform better in classroom.

So let us ensure that we do not pull our children away from outdoor play and rather push them into the outdoors to add the extra benefits in their lifestyles.

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