5 Benefits of Outdoor Play for Kids

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Ahh the great outdoors. 

Sunshine. Fresh air. What more could a person want?

Nowadays though, you are more likely to find children staring at the TV than playing outside. Why is that?

The answer is not simple. It can be attributed to many things. 

We are busier now than we ever have been. Parents just don’t have as much time to spend outside with their kids each day. The lure of screens is all too real and it can be difficult to convince kids to trade tablet time for tag on the playground.

Does that mean we should just give up? No. Quite the opposite, in fact.

The benefits of outdoor play for a child’s development are all too real. And they are too important to ignore.

Here are 5 reasons it’s necessary to make sure kids have plenty of unstructured play time outside.

1. Growing strong healthy bodies

When a child plays outside, they are engaging their entire body in the process. 

Whether they are running, climbing, swinging, or jumping, those muscles – large and small – are growing stronger.

2. Building social skills

Playing outdoors with friends offers kids the opportunity to develop traits such as empathy, kindness, and courage.

When a child conquers a tall slide or extends a hand to a fallen friend, he is practicing social and emotional skills he will use the rest of his life.

3. Get a good night’s sleep

Afternoons at the park make for a great night’s sleep. Why is that though? 

Sunlight offers much-needed vitamin D – something most kids (adults too!) are lacking. Little bodies are getting the space they need to wiggle, spin, run, and move. And fresh air fills lungs while clearing minds.

Spending time enjoying the great outdoors is setting everyone up for a better night’s rest.

4. Better than any sensory bin

Everywhere you look, sensory bins are all the rage. People are finally starting to see the benefit that comes from exploring the environment around you using all of your senses. While Pinterest is full of great ideas, don’t miss what is readily available as you step out your front door.

Take your kids outside. Walk barefoot in the soft grass. Stare at the big blue sky. Feel the nip in the cool autumn air. Make mud pies. Splash in a puddle. 

Appreciate the beauty in each day. Your kids will follow suit.

5. Learning opportunities abound

It seems like each and every year, kids are expected to know more and more as they enter school. Kindergarten used to be a place for learning through exploration and play. Today, the expectations we place on young children just aren’t developmentally appropriate. 

Kids need to wiggle and giggle. They need to observe and experience, taking in the entirety of the environment around them. Let’s get them outside where learning happens naturally.

Leaves, twigs, and rocks make math come alive. Frogs at the pond become a hands-on science lesson. Books can be enjoyed in the breeze under a large shade tree.

Even better, kids that spend time playing outside are more centered and able to focus on assignments with fewer distractions. 

Setting your kids up for success

The bottom line here is that spending more time outdoors is something that would benefit us all – kids and adults alike. 

By setting the example and getting outside with our kids, we are helping them form healthy habits that will last their entire lives, and hopefully for generations to come. 

Here are a few simple ideas to get you outside and having fun with your kids TODAY!

Paint with water – This is so simple! Just take a bowl of water and some paintbrushes and go out and paint the sidewalk. What fun designs can you and your kids come up with? This also leads the way for a great discussion about evaporation and the water cycle!

Picnic lunch – What better way to enjoy a meal than eating in the great outdoors? Pack a small cooler with your family’s favorite meal and head to the nearest park! Don’t forget to bring a frisbee for some fun in the sun after lunch!

Scavenger hunt – What better way to engage your young explorers than by taking them on a neighborhood scavenger hunt to learn all about the local landscape? Here are some great ideas to get you started!

Bike wash – Fill a bucket with water and soap, toss in a few sponges, and set up a little bike wash out on the patio. Let your kids wash their bikes, scooters, and anything else you can convince them to clean! They’ll love splashing around and their outdoor toys will look shiny and new! 

Bubbles and chalk – These dollar store goodies will keep your little ones entertained for hours. First, see who can pop the most bubbles! Then, challenge them to a good old-fashioned game of hopscotch! This is a great way to work on counting while incorporating awesome gross motor development skills!

Don’t forget to share on social media! Everyone, no matter the age, can benefit from more time spent outdoors!

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