Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity. It is through unstructured, open-ended creative play that children learn the ways of the world. While playing outside, children explore with all their senses, they witness new life, they create imaginary worlds and they negotiate with each other to create a playful environment. Getting kids outdoors makes them happier, healthier – and smarter.
Outdoor Play Is A Multi-Sensory Activity:
While outdoors, children will see, hear, smell and touch things unavailable to them when they play inside. They use their brains in unique ways as they come to understand these new stimuli.
Playing Outdoors Stimulates Creativity:
Natural spaces and materials stimulate children’s limitless imagination and serve as the medium of inventiveness and creativity. Rocks, stones and dirt present limitless opportunities for play that can be expressed differently every time a child steps outside.
Playing In Nature Reduces Anxiety:
Time spent outside physiologically reduces anxiety. Children bring an open mind and a more relaxed outlook back inside when they are in more traditional learning environments.
Outdoor Play Increases Attention Span:
Time spent in unstructured play outdoors is a natural attention builder. Often children who have difficulty with pen and paper tasks or sitting still for longer periods of times are significantly more successful after time spent outside.
Being In Nature Develops Respect For Other Living Things:
Children develop empathy, the ability to consider other people’s feeling, by interacting with creatures in nature. Watching a tiny bug, a blue bird or a squirrel scurrying up a tree gives children the ability to learn and grow from others.
Outdoor Play Promotes Problem Solving:
As children navigate a world in which they make the rules, they must learn to understand what works and what doesn’t, what line of thinking brings success and failure, how to know when to keep trying and when to stop.
Playing Outside Promotes Leadership Skills:
In an environment where children create the fun, natural leaders will arise. One child may excel at explaining how to play the game while another may enjoy setting up the physical challenge of an outdoor obstacle course. All types of leadership skills are needed and encouraged.
Outdoor Play Widens Vocabulary:
While playing outdoors, children may see an acorn, a chipmunk and cumulous clouds. As they encounter new things, their vocabulary will expand in ways it never could indoors.
Playing Outside Improves Communication Skills:
As children negotiate the rules of an invented game, they must listen closely to one another, ask questions for clarification and attend to the details of explanations in ways they don’t have to when playing familiar games.
Outdoor Play Encourages Cooperative Play:
In a setting where there aren’t clear winners and losers, children work together to meet a goal. Perhaps they complete a self-made obstacle course or create a house for a chipmunk. Together they compromise and work together to meet a desired outcome.
Playing Outdoors Helps Children To Notice Similarities And Differences:
The ability to sort items and notice the similarities and differences in them is yet another skill crucial to mathematical success. Time outdoors affords many opportunities for sorting.
Time Spent Outdoors Improves Children’s Immune Systems:
Healthy children are stronger learners. As children spend more and more time outdoors, their immune systems improve decreasing time out of school for illness.