Do you remember your childhood? The countless hours spent outdoors at playgrounds and parks with your friends, and the utter joy it brought to you. Unfortunately, children today don’t spend as much time playing outdoors as older generations did at their age. According to a Forbes article, they spend only 30 minutes a day outside as compared to 7 hours in front of a screen!
Like most parents, you don’t need a statistic to know the unproportionate amount of time your child spends in front of a mobile, tablet, or desktop. And this switch from active outdoor play to a more sedentary lifestyle can lead to serious consequences for their health and overall well-being.
While most of us know that it’s important for children to be active, not everyone is aware of why it’s so important. As parents, we want our children to be physically and mentally healthy while also being independent and well-rounded individuals.
So, what if we told you that the best way to help your child achieve that would be to encourage them to spend more time outdoors? Let’s see how.
Benefits of Outdoor Play
1. Physical Development Benefits
Outdoor play is extremely beneficial for children’s development. It directly affects your child’s weight, physical strength, and immunity. What’s more, those who are more active during childhood continue being active as adults.
a) Enhanced Motor Skills
Kids who play outdoors tend to enjoy activities like walking, running, and biking. These activities help in improving their motor skills. When outside, children have the space to run, jump, swing, walk, and throw. As they climb trees or crawl under bushes, they get more confident in their movements while pushing their physical abilities.
b) Improved Overall Health
Spending time outside greatly reduces a child’s risk of becoming obese. Childhood obesity is directly linked to many problems like diabetes, asthma, cardiovascular disease, and sleep apnea. Moreover, exposure to sunlight improves the child’s mood and the immune system. Outdoor play also benefits children with ADHD by providing them an outlet for expending their energy that could cause problems indoors.
c) Developed Muscle Strength
Did you know that when your child is swinging, their muscles are engaged? Their bodies start getting acquainted with how to hold on, sit up, and follow the movement of the swing. Similar repeated playground activities help young children develop muscle strength. Different toys like bicycles and scooters also strengthen a variety of muscles.
2. Social Development Benefits
a) More Openness with Parents & Caregivers
In indoor areas, kids playing together spend time in smaller spaces and have to compete with other children for attention. This causes some younger children to grow quiet and prevents them from opening up. On the other hand, open spaces like playgrounds help them feel less overwhelmed and more willing to open up to their parents or caregivers.
b) Increased Self Awareness
Kids who spend more time outdoors are more likely to develop stronger observation and reasoning skills. It also helps them explore the world from a different perspective. They also understand the concept of “cause and effect” – for example, what would happen if they crash into an adult. It, hence, assists them in gaining more awareness of the space they’re in.
c) Appreciation for the Environment
A study found out that 87% of individuals who spent their time outdoors as children carried their love for nature into adulthood. 84% of these individuals still thought the environment to be a priority. When children spend time outside, they interact directly with nature, plants, and animals.
For example, watching squirrels run up and down the trees, watching sunsets, observing insects, and more. These memories become their fond childhood memories and make them more compassionate towards preserving these spaces as they understand their value.
d) Better Peer-to-Peer Relationships
Children who spend greater time outdoors develop an increased sense of awareness of others’ feelings. Since outdoor play requires teamwork and imagination, children tend to have positive interactions with each other. While there may be occasional arguments about whose turn it is on the swing, exposure to outdoor play makes it easier for children to get along together.
3. Emotional Development Benefits
a) Utilization of all Five Senses
Kids who spend most of their time in front of a screen, typically use only two senses – sight and hearing. This can restrict the ability to process and respond to sensory stimuli. Children who spend more time playing outdoors, on the other hand, use all five senses. This helps younger children get familiar with different sensory experiences and promotes their growth as they get older.
b) Greater Sense of Independence
Children tend to feel a sense of freedom when they are at a park or playground. Even with a parent close by, they can explore and take some limited risks without feeling watched. They can challenge their limits by figuring out what they are capable of, and this helps them build their confidence.
4. Intellectual Development Benefits
a) Aids in Brain Development
During outdoor play, children often invent games and explore their surroundings. This cultivates their skills like decision-making, problem-solving, solution implementing, and organizational abilities. They are also able to understand the importance of creating and following rules.
b) Better Communication Skills
On a playground, kids meet other children and have ample opportunities to interact and cultivate friendships. They meet people from different backgrounds and learn how to communicate with them. This can make it easier for them to navigate through social situations even as adults.
We hope this helps you understand the importance of outdoor play for children. Arihant PLAY is India’s largest play environment company and offers an extensive range of playground equipment for parks, schools, housing societies, resorts, and more. For more information about our products, please click here or get in touch with us today!