Outdoor play is essential for your children’s development all year long. Here we share with you some reasons why children should get outside and play.
Outdoor play is essential for your children’s development all year long. However, when the cold weather sets in, the amount of time that children spend outdoors also drops significantly. This goes against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation that preschool-aged children ages three to five years should be physically active throughout the day, while children and adolescents ages six to 17 years need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity each day.
Here are some reasons why you should let your kids play outdoors even during cold weather months:
It’s good for their overall health and well-being
Most adults think of exercise as going for a run, practicing yoga, lifting weights, or working out in the gym. For children, active play is the best form of exercise. The National Resource for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education (NRC) confirms that time spent outdoors is a strong indicator of children’s physical activity. Going outside gives them a lot of room for jumping, running, climbing, dancing, and many more physical activities that they can enjoy to the extent of their abilities.
Outdoor play is associated with a lot of health benefits for children. It builds and maintains strong bones, muscles, and joints; develops motor skills; boosts strength, stamina, and coordination; and reduces the risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and certain types of cancer later in life.
In addition to physical health benefits, outdoor play promotes brain and mental health. It improves cognition, brain function, mood, focus, and sense of well-being, and can also help children fall asleep faster at night and stay alert during the day. Even child care and learning centers like Celebree School recognize the role of outdoor play in the lives of children and are committed to maximizing outdoor space and collaborating with families to support children’s optimal growth and development.
The winter offers unique learning opportunities
Cold weather allows children to discover new things. The NRC states that during outdoor play, children learn about their environment, science, and nature. The change in setting is likely to pique their interest and cause them to ask questions they would not be able to ask during warmer weather. They will have to use their imagination and find different activities to play outside. Winter-themed games present new ways for kids to develop their motor, cognitive, and social skills. Overcoming new challenges fosters self-confidence.
In addition, exposure to a new environment develops children’s awareness of safety and ability to assess risks. Outdoor play can help them identify new hazards such as slippery surfaces and strong winds.
Outdoor play dates are safer
Since its outbreak, the COVID-19 pandemic has become a greater barrier to outdoor play than cold weather. According to Harvard Health Publishing, outdoor play dates, where you can create more physical distance, are a better option than indoor play dates. You may invite a few friends but limit them to a couple of children or families with whom you have been socializing during the pandemic. As long as you are observing ground rules about touching and distancing, you and your children can spend quality time outdoors while sharing fewer germs.
Cycling, rock or ice climbing, skiing, ice skating, snowboarding, and sledding are some of the low-risk outdoor winter activities that Mayo Clinic suggests you can do with your children during the pandemic.
Keeping kids active outdoors every season is crucial to their holistic development. Make sure that they are dressed appropriately before setting out, so they can be comfortable while they explore the wonders of winter.