Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for young children to spend much of their play time indoors, possibly on a device with a screen (sound familiar?). While technology has positively impacted the way our children can learn, it has also greatly impacted how much time they spend playing outdoors. Outdoor play is one of the most important and delightful things that characterises childhood, and is critical to the healthy development in all children.
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Gross motor skills
There are a few developmental skills that children need to acquire, which are best learned through outdoor play. Playing outside enables your child to develop their gross motor skills through active physical exercises such as running, climbing, jumping, swimming, swinging, and other big movements. Getting your child moving is critical to their physical health and well-being.
Learning about the world
Outdoor play also allows your child to learn about the world by exploring their natural environment - something they won’t be able to learn from a TV screen! The great outdoors offer so much for children to learn about, such as space, distance, and time. For instance, when they play in the sandpit with buckets in their hands, they can learn about texture, weight, and volume. There’s a great deal they can learn first-hand through physical encounters and interactions, like petting animals, smelling flowers, and watching plants grow--their opportunities for learning are limitless.
Playing at local parks and public playgrounds lets your child interact with other children, allowing your child to build their basic social skills, such as sharing and taking turns.
Ability to manage risks
Being able to assess and manage risk is an essential part of growing up, and the best way to develop this is through play. During outdoor play, children continually learn to take charge and make decisions as they assess the levels of risk they’re willing to take. Through this, children not only achieve confidence, but also learn about limits and boundaries. Children who spend a lot of time playing outdoors are likely to develop a better understanding of opportunities and challenges in the world around them.
Want to take your little ones outside but need some extra inspiration for where to go and what to do? Click here for some of Childcare Near Me’s ideas for fun outdoor play activities and our top picks for your local outdoor playgrounds.
So what are you waiting for? Turn that TV off, put the iPad away, get out there and have some outdoor fun!