Did you know that children are spending less time in unstructured play – especially outdoors and in natural settings – than at any other time in history?
Outdoor play is important for children’s well-being and growth. Research tells us that it is through play that children learn and develop and the outdoors provides a unique setting that gives children different play opportunities than those available indoors. Children learn valuable lessons and practice new skills when they play outdoors.
Five Benefits of Outdoor Play:
1. Outdoor Play Provides Challenge
Outdoor play gives children the chance to experience new challenges and risks. By experiencing challenges, a child builds confidence as they learn how to overcome these challenges. Experiencing risk, by trying new things and overcoming fears, helps children learn to spot risks and make decisions about risky situations. Challenging outdoor play helps children feel secure in their abilities, which reduces their feelings of fear and anxiety.
2. Time in Nature is Calming
Playing outside in a natural setting, like a park or a forest, can be a calming experience for your child. Contact with nature has been shown to reduce children’s feelings of stress. Time spent playing in nature can help your child to feel less anxious and more secure and calm.
3. Outdoor Play is Creative
Outdoor play gives children the opportunity to be creative. Outdoor materials like sand and dirt can be moved and changed by children to build their own creations. This allows children to see how their actions create change. While playing outdoors, children often participate in dramatic play by pretending to be different people and acting out different events. This allows children to try out social situations.
4. Outdoor Play is Social
Outdoor play areas are children’s spaces to play with each other. Children are able to play with other children with less control from adults. This creates opportunities for children to practice getting along with others.
5. Outdoor Play Increases Attention
After playing outdoors in nature, children may be able to focus better and pay more attention to tasks. Spending time in nature has been linked to increased attention. Taking a break to play outdoors can help children to be more alert and engaged.