The Importance of Outdoor Play for Development

As technology becomes more immersive, it may seem that outdoor play simply can’t compete.  However, outdoor play is still extremely valuable for children in terms of development and learning. Here, the education professionals at Celebree discuss reasons why children should be spending far more time outdoors.

There are many new forms of technology that can entice children to play inside rather than exploring the outdoors. But, outdoor play is vital for proper child development, and should be encouraged as a part of your child’s regular routine. Below, the educators at Celebree Learning Centers have highlighted the specific benefits of outdoor play.

Physical Development

Children’s bodies develop considerably in their early years, and outdoor activity goes a long way in supporting healthy physical growth and change. Running, skipping, jumping and playing outdoor games all improve gross motor skills, while simply spending time outside can greatly improve children’s immune systems. Further, physical activity helps children to burn calories while having fun, which can help your child to maintain a healthy weight and build a foundation for a healthy relationship with exercise as they age.

While outdoor play is an effective way to keep children physically healthy, it can also help to alleviate built up energy and stresses. Do you have a child whose unbridled energy causes havoc indoors? Outdoor play gives them an opportunity to channel that energy productively, and “get the wiggles out” before heading back inside.

Mental and Social Development

Playing outside gives children the opportunity to use their imagination to learn and have fun in an environment that offers an endless stage to do so. As such, outdoor play is often less structured than playing indoors, which provides children a much-needed opportunity to be creative, cooperative, and thoughtful. Being outdoors means inventing games, using imagination, taking turns, and learning about how to create and follow rules. It’s also a very social activity, encouraging children to interact with their peers face-to-face, navigate social situations and deal with conflicts in thoughtful ways.

Nature provides us a sense of harmony, balance, beauty and change. The multitude of sights, sounds, smells and textures also enables us to use our senses in ways that are limited inside. Indoor play can be limited in that many activities only engage a child’s sense of sight and hearing, which can stunt a child’s sensory perception. Outdoors, children begin to engage all five of their senses as they learn to appreciate what they can see, smell, touch, taste and hear.

Outdoor Play Lets Children be Children

The rigidity of a structured and scheduled life can have negative effects on children at every age. Outdoor play can serve as an antidote to the stresses that stem from everyday life. Playing outside gives children the ability to shout, sing, run, make messes and manipulate their environment in a way that is at times considered inappropriate indoors. This opportunity is important as it allows children to feel free, uninhibited and independent.

How can you encourage your child to enjoy the outdoors? Spend time outside with them by going to your neighborhood playground, building a sandbox in the backyard or having them help create a garden. There are endless opportunities available to get your family outside and active, while learning and promoting positive development at the same time!

At Celebree, we believe in providing your child a balance of indoor educational activity, and unstructured outdoor play. For more information about one of our infant, toddler, preschool, or school-age educational programs, contact us today!