From playing on iPads to watching television, children seem to be spending more and more time indoors. The increase in numbers of children spending a predominate amount of time inside has led to numerous studies being published highlighting the negative impact this is having on their health and development. At the same time, research has also discovered that there are many benefits to children playing outdoors, here are just seven of the benefits:
Playing outside helps children to develop their learning abilities. By putting educational equipment outdoors, children are soon learning through play, which is a fun way of helping children to learn new information and skills. As well as this, outdoor learning encourages children to think of learning is an ongoing process instead of just something done in the classroom.
Outdoor play is great for encouraging children’s creativity. Away from the constraints and confinement of indoor play, being outside children’s imaginations are often stimulated by the objects around them and they quickly tap into their creativity.
There are numerous health benefits to playing outside. With more room to play in, children are often more active when outside, which helps them to build strong bones and good fitness levels, while also enabling them to burn off extra energy and calories. This especially is a priority as Noo reports that a third of 10- 11 year olds in the UK are now obese, with the number rising every year. As well as this, being in the sunshine, even in winter, means children naturally absorb vital vitamin D, a lack of which can lead to Rickets.
4. Social skills
As outdoor spaces are usually less crowded than indoors, it is less intimidating and helps children to naturally come out of their shells and be more social. This means that children will be more willing to join in games and activities, while they will also be more likely to talk to different children and make new friends. This all encourages children to learn social skills and how to interact with other children away from adult supervision.
Giving children the freedom of playing outdoor helps them to feel happier and calmer. As already stated, being outside means that children naturally get vitamin D, which is proven to help improve moods and create a positive mental attitude. The freedom outdoor play also encourages children to get rid of built up energy, particularly if they tend to be fidgety when sitting for long periods of time, this leads to them becoming calmer and ultimately helps them to be more focused when in the classroom.
The large space in which to play means that when outside children are often away from direct adult supervision. This helps them to learn independence when socially interacting with other children, as well as learning to play by themselves. They learn how to take turns playing games, to pick themselves up then they fall, and how to negotiate unfamiliar equipment, resulting in children learning how to be independent and self-reliant.
Often outdoor play equipment has a little more risk than indoor toys. Whether it is encouraging children to use slides they might be a little afraid to go down, or to try challenging play trails; outdoor play equipment can help children to learn to push their boundaries and become good at risk assessment. It also teaches them to explore new games and become confident in learning to try new things without being guided by adults.