Importance of Outside Play

Importance of Outside Play by

With Spring in the air, and the weather warming up, it is a great time to try and get children playing outdoors once again. In today’s society, video games and computers have taken the place of playing outside for many children. Lack of physical activity can lead to obesity and a number of other health problems and children who do not spend enough time playing outdoors are typically deprived of social interactions and natural stimulation.

Recent research has found that children who play outside for an average of 90 minutes per day in good weather have less risk of heart trouble later in life. Playing outside not only makes children healthier, there are a number of other benefits to a child’s growth and development provided by outdoor play.

Through physical play, young children discover the things their bodies can do. As they increase their skills of running, climbing, or throwing, children gain confidence in themselves and become more motivated to try new things. Playing outside is one of the best ways to boost self-esteem in young children.

When a child feels sure of himself and his abilities, he is more likely to interact with other children. Playing outdoors gives children a chance to play with others and develop healthy social skills. A child learns to share and to take turns outside. Qualities of leadership and cooperation may also begin to emerge in outdoor play events.

Cooperative play situations that occur quite often in outside play give children opportunities to work in groups. Children will work together to create the ideas they have imagined and when conflicts surface or problems arise, they will combine their efforts to resolve them. Playing outdoors can mold a child’s social confidence and abilities for the future.

Playing outside also allows children to understand and appreciate the natural world around them. Exploring nature and the elements is a child’s first contact with science. All five senses can be expanded through outdoor play. The sounds and sights of nature, along with the smells and the feeling of a spring breeze, are relaxing and enjoyable even to a small child.

Children are likely to make up a number of their own games to play outside. Unstructured play allows children to develop their own styles of play and enhances their creativity and imagination. Large muscle skills can be developed with a variety of balls, ride on toys, or swing sets. Assorted wood scraps and a few construction vehicles can turn the backyard into a building zone while promoting problem solving and logical thinking.

Outside play has always been an important influence in a child’s development. Children learn to play together as they develop a number of other skills. In today’s technological age it is more important than ever to encourage children to play outdoors, not only for their social and physical development, but for their healthiness.

Through the introduction of the television, computers and the Internet, games consoles, and portable video games, children are learning from a very early age that sitting in a chair staring at a screen is a great way to play. However there is a huge difference between talking to a fellow team mate through the Internet and a microphone and actual face-to-face contact.

It is vital that during these warm Summer months, children make the most of being able to go outside. This allows them to properly stretch out their muscles, breathe in the fresh air and get some vitamin D from the sunshine. Vitamin D encourages the absorption of calcium in the body which, in young children is essential for the development of strong bones and teeth. During the Winter, most children will not be exposed to enough vitamin D so it is vital that they get as much as they can during the warmer months to counteract this deficit.

There are also several social benefits of children playing outside. Outside games are often much louder and more energetic, allowing children to gain important physical skills and because there is usually less direction from adults, children learn skills such as negotiation and compromise. For example, getting children to build a sandcastle allows them to learn how to co-operate and work together to achieve something. When playing outdoors, a child is also exposed to completely different textures, sounds and smells which they would not otherwise experience indoors. They are often allowed more freedom to explore and discover things for themselves, building their independence and their confidence.

The playground at school is the perfect environment for learning these skills and gives children an allotted amount of time each day to let off some steam and interact with others. This highlights the importance for stimulating outdoor playground equipment. The equipment children use both individually and as part of a group activity, can be extremely beneficial in their development. For example using musical playground equipment can teach a child co-ordination and rhythm simply through dancing along to the music and playing the instruments.

So now that the weather is beginning to allow for outdoor play, we should encourage children to put away the game consoles and experience more of the environment for themselves and make the most of it.

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