Let the kids play… Outdoors! Outdoor play is not  something that should be optional for young children. Children need to have opportunities that allow their curiosity to   take them on adventures as they create and explore their outdoor surroundings.   The benefits of outdoor play have been shown by researchers to be important for child development and in connecting children with their natural environment¹.

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It  has been proven by researchers to be necessary for child development and not only their  physical development. Play is also important for brain development, social development and emotional development¹.  Beyond child development, outdoor play  connects children with the natural environment which in turn helps them  develop an appreciation for the natural world and helps kids sleep better!  Play outside, develop , love nature and sleep well!  Sounds like a win to me!

Check out Get Outside and Play week to win prizes  while encouraging outdoor play with your little ones. Runs across Alberta from May 27-June 3rd, 2017.

Benefits of Outdoor Play

Brain   Development

Play  stimulates healthy brain development. How does outdoor play stimulate brain development?  Children learn how to create and explore the world around them.  “When play is allowed to be child driven, children practice decision-making skills, move at their own pace, discover their own areas of interest, and ultimately engage fully in the passions they wish to pursue.”³

Physical Development

Outdoor play gives children the opportunity to  develop their physical literacy. That means that kids get better are jumping, skipping, throwing and climbing while playing outdoors. Learning and mastering these skills builds confidence and encourages children to be healthy as they grow older. Physical development does  not only  improve movement but it  also increases bone density and overall strength which  reduces the severity of injury and healing time late in life¹.

Social Development

Outdoor play allows children the opportunity to work together, take turns , problem solve  and sort out social norms with their peers. ¹  Playing outdoors without structure helps children  work together to  play a game or activity that they have decided on. Take for instance when my children  aged 1 and 3 head into the backyard  to play without me.  They immediately get busy  engaging in some sort of creative play.  They have learnt how to solve arguments and work together when creating a game.

Encourage Environmentalism

Spending time in nature  creates a sense of ownership around the environment.  Children who spend time outdoors have a greater tendency to want to help protect it as they get older.  According to a survey done by the Suzuki Foundation, children are 20% more likely to get outside and explore nature if they were given time to play outdoors. (4)

Better Sleeps

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention an estimated 50-70 million US adults have sleep or wakefulness disorder(5). Spending time outdoors helps children sleep better night by increasing natural light to stay more awake during the day, helps relieve stress, and creates soothing endorphins that can help  with the production of melatonin.(6)   Melatonin is a hormone in the body that helps you sleep!

 

  It is time to kick your little one outside and let them play.

 

 

Check out these other great articles on play!

Bring  Back Adventure and Risk: 7 tips to get your started– Born to be Adventurous

Fresh Air Living– Active Kids Club

10 ways to find adventure in your own backyard – Active for Life

 

Resources

  1. Dietze,  Beverlie Dr.(2016, October). The Importance of Increasing Children’s Outdoor Play Opportunities.  http://www.cccf-fcsge.ca/2016/10/06/a-blog-the-importance-of-increasing-childrens-outdoor-play-opportunities/
  2. Gray, Peter PhD. (2008, November). The Value of Play I: The Definition of Play Gives Insights. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/200811/the-value-play-i-the-definition-play-gives-insights
  3. Ginsburg, Kenneth. (January, 2007). The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/119/1/182
  4. The David Suzuki Foundation. (2012, Spring). http://www.davidsuzuki.org/publications/downloads/2012/youth%20survey%20findings%20summary.pdf
  5. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention.  https://www.cdc.gov/features/dssleep/index.html#References
  6. National Wildlife Federation. http://www.nwf.org/What-We-Do/Kids-and-Nature/Why-Get-Kids-Outside/Sleep-Better.aspx

 

By Annika Mang

 

 

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