Importance of Outdoor Play in Early Years

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Living in a world of ever-evolving technology, children have started to play outside less and less, which isn’t healthy in the long run.

There are so many benefits to playing outside; it builds character, helps their mental health, tests the children’s physical strength through activities, gives them life lessons, and more.

Yes, it can get messy sometimes, but it’s part of the fun! It’s still important in a child’s early years to play outside instead of always having their eyes glued to the screen.

Read on to know why it’s important and how a few minutes of playing outdoors can benefit your child.

The Importance of Outdoor Play in a Child’s Early Years

There are several benefits of playing outside, especially when the children are in their early years. Most importantly, it helps develop their brain functions and gets them out of their comfort zone.

Here are some of the benefits that children can achieve by just playing outside:

Physically

  • Running around in parks is highly beneficial as it improves their muscles such as their core and legs and increases their stamina.
  • Their continuous movement can counter their diet (if they’re not eating as healthy as they should) and help them burn calories and have a lower body mass index.
  • Climbing helps children’s eye-hand coordination, builds up strength, and improves their sense of balance.
  • Being active lowers the chance of health problems in the future like obesity and heart disease.
  • Being exposed to different environments and elements builds their immunity.
  • The children will get deeper sleep due to engaging in activities and using up their energy.
  • Children’s bones and motor skills will strengthen with jumping around and overall movement.
  • Playing in the sun offers a healthy dose of Vitamin D, which decreases the chance of heart disease and increases the body’s immunity.
child playing outdoors

Mentally

  • Children can relieve stress by shouting and making noise while they’re playing.
  • They can develop their self-confidence steadily as they start doing more activities with other children.
  • New activities in different environments can offer them challenges they haven’t been through before, with which they can develop problem-solving skills.
  • Playing with friends can boost imagination as it keeps their minds engaged.
  • Having a happy childhood impacts one’s personality on a deeper level, steering them to having a positive personality as an adult later. 

Ask them what they want to play so that you can allow them to take part in the process and make them feel like they have control over what they want to do.

Character Building

  • Playing outside gives children a sense of freedom and space where they can do their activities, boosting their morale in general.
  • Socialising with other kids creates the possibility of making new friends and/or increasing the bond with already existing ones.
  • Making new friends and being members of larger communities builds the children’s self-esteem.
  • They can understand the sense of achievement after surpassing challenges on the playing field.
  • Playing with others can divert their attention towards more positive aspects and activities, which would lead them away from bullying and misbehaving.
  • Playing in adverse weather builds toughness and exposes them to everything life can bring. Get your kid’s best wellies on and get out there!

Different Ways to Improve Playing Outside

Playing outside can be done in several environments; each has its own perks, so try to vary it as much as you can.

Offering different methods of playing can go a long way in building your kid’s character.

Visit Playgrounds

a playground

Playgrounds that have forts and other equipment serve as dramatic and dynamic avenues of entertainment. 

Castles and small forts can boost children’s creativity and imagination. Likewise, monkey bars are a good way for children to build upper body strength and work on fighting their fear of falling.

Sandboxes are another great example that builds on social playing as children can learn to share toys with others and make new friends. Generally, try to visit playgrounds whenever you can; they’re good for kids to be around.

Play in the garden

Playing games in the backyard with the rest of the family can build trust and improve the family dynamic. When children play with their parents nearby, they feel safe and secure. So, in a way, you’ll be giving the kids the assurance they need to venture on their own, but you’ll provide them with the secure feeling of being there. If your garden is big enough you can incorporate larger features such as swings for older children.

You can also get your kids to play in the neighbourhood, where they’ll get to know more people from the same area, making them feel like part of the community, although this is less desirable in this day and age.

Go to the Park

Having fun in parks can be turned into an adventure for the little ones, as the environment is different from the urban jungles we live in today. In the park, your kids can see dogs running around and improve their relationships with animals. Plus, they can make new friends and join picnics.

Engage in Activities

It’s always better to get your children to engage in activities outdoors. For example, when it’s windy, you can take them to fly a kite. Likewise, if you live in a snowy area, you can let the kids build a snowman. That way, they learn how to connect with nature and enjoy all weathers.

Importance of Outdoor Play for the Parents

Parents also benefit from their children playing outside, as it builds on the relationship between them and their kids.

These bonds can be reinforced by shared activities, such as playing games together, going on a walk in a park, and being around when they’re playing, looking out for them. You can make it into a weekly routine to get your kids used to going outside.

Conclusion

You should consider having your children spend some time outside, as it lowers their screen time, pushes them to build on their skills, and gets them out of the house. Even during bad weather, it’s worth it.

Playing outside is important on so many levels, socially, physically, mentally, and more, as it can be a great tool to shape your children while keeping their sense of independence and freedom.

Yes, there are some risks that they can see, but you’re with them along the way to protect them and push them to experience the world with all of its wonders.