How does outdoor play help a child’s development?

It is not being a bad parent to expose your children to technology early, but not encouraging outdoor play may negatively affect your child’s wellbeing and development.

Since the introduction of screens into educational and family areas, research has shown that staying inside for prolonged periods of time has serious consequences. At Child’s Play Early Learning Centres, we have designed all of our rooms to be multifunctional and encourage drifting between indoor and outdoor play to ensure that every child can reach their full learning potential. As parents, you may be wondering what you can do outside of childcare to ensure that your child gets ample outdoor play. There are a few options you can consider which include weekend excursions, afternoon trips to the park with friends, or getting them to help out in the garden.

All of these options are great and will continue to help promote your child’s development and if you are unsure why outdoor play is essential here are some key areas that it contributes to.

Stimulation and Learning

Children have a lot of energy as they continue to grow and develop, outdoor play allows for them to use that energy in a positive manner. They are able to run around, scream and explore new places. During this time they may even come across new things, and there are two possible responses that you child may have:

  1. They may come running to you and start firing questions about this new thing
  2. They may go running towards it, to touch, smell, hear and taste what they can see.

Either response shows that your child is interested and open to learning which are important abilities to have when starting kindergarten or preparing for school.  What you may not know is that both of these responses also have positive effects on a child’s development later on because it enables them to consider and undertake risks, maintain concentration when necessary, and be less stressed about the unknown.

Positive Behaviour Skills

The outside is a new world to children so while they are out exploring, they will probably develop new skills including behavioural skills which will help them later on in life. Some of these behaviours you may see include your child talking to other kids at the park, sharing their toys with others and cooperating with a group of kids to build things like a sandcastle. These behaviours are great because it stimulates them to use their social skills and encourages open communication.

However, playing outside with other children at the park, at childcare or at home not only teaches them sharing and cooperation but has the added benefits of encouraging children to be innovative and organised. These are important skills to develop because it encourages creativity and will help them with numerical reasoning when they go to school. You may even find that after outdoor play, your child wants to try doing things on their own like tying their shoelaces and these are precious moments when you can encourage that creativity and systematic thinking.

Outdoor play for your child’s health

Finally, for a child, exposure to the outdoors is important not just for social and educational development but for physical wellbeing as well. Outdoor play is one of the only ways children can get plenty of exercise which not only encourages them later to take up sport and other physical activities but will actually help you with their current sleep cycle. Studies have shown that vigorous amounts of activity in children have shown greater production of melatonin which helps people sleep, so there will be less resistance to naps or bedtime when the hour arises.

Additionally, children need ample amounts of Vitamin D to help grow healthy bones and muscles and this can be achieved by playing outdoors in the sunshine. Sunshine also helps stimulate your child to feel happy, which is why they may look completely carefree when outside. If you are worried about the air quality, sunburn or just the general bumps and bruises that may occur when outside, remember that exposure and experience of these things will help your child develop resilience as well as a stronger immune system and that there are trusted protective measures that you can use when playing outdoors.

At Child’s Play, we encourage all children and parents to enjoy outdoor play as frequently as possible because it is not only a great learning experience but it is also an amazing way to build stronger relationships with your children.

If you would like to know more about our facilitated outdoor play at Child’s Play Early Learning Centre, do not hesitate to give one of our facilities a call.