Most adults would agree, playing outside was a fundamental part of our childhood. Summers spent roaming around creating and playing out fictional stories was the norm. In today’s fast paced world, sadly, kids aren’t always given the opportunity to play outside in an unstructured environment.
Studies have shown over and over again that the role of boredom in a child’s life is a key component in order to encourage creative and imaginative play. Combine that with getting outside to enjoy nature while soaking up some vitamin D and you’ve got a winning recipe for developing young minds. We feel there are many benefits to playing outdoors and these are our top seven for young kids.
Play introduces toddlers and young kids to the scientific method early by encouraging the constant questioning and exploration. Whether they know they’re doing it or not, experimenting through play allows kids to ask a question, create a hypothesis, experiment and draw a conclusion.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 12 million U.S. children are obese. That's one out of every six children which is a frightening statistic! And why is this happening you may ask? A study from the Kaiser Family Foundation determined that children ages 8 to 18 are spending more than seven and a half hours a day with electronic devices. Being outside encourages the whole family to move.
Toddlers LOVE open spaces, it allows them to explore and play in ways that can’t be done indoors. Kids engaging in this type of physical activity on a regular basis will become more assertive and have a more positive image of themselves.
Exercise is the number one way to reduce stress. For kids that means running around and having the freedom to express themselves in ways that can’t normally. With a reduction in recess in education this freeform of play is imperative to reducing childhood stresses.
Children who play outdoors regularly develop more advanced motor skills, such as agility, balance and coordination. Playing with ride-on and pedaling toys really engages all of those skills.
Preschoolers who engage in outdoor play are more likely to invent games promoting autonomy, decision-making and organizational skills. This also leads to higher interaction with those they’re playing with increasing communication, collaboration and cooperation.
Not only are kids getting more natural vitamin D but they’re engaging, moving, gaining confidence all while making memories. These activities outdoors create higher endorphins which equate to happier children. And that’s something we can all get behind.
Take time this week to plan a nightly walk with your family or just run around in the backyard. Don’t have a backyard? Visit a playground, metropark, state park to explore the environment. You’ll be happy you did.