One of the most important occupations for children is play. Play in children helps them to develop many different skills from physical skills, to emotional skills. Playing outside provides different ways of learning skills than just playing inside. For example, the benefits of outdoor play in children is:
- Learning trial and error,
- Learning sequencing of movements,
- Learning to balance when walking on uneven surfaces,
- Gaining sensory input from the rocks, leaves, grass, dirt, etc.,
- Building muscle through climbing and running,
- Gaining confidence in their own abilities,
- Burning calories (decreases childhood obesity),
- Improving appetite,
- Improving their moods by relieving stress,
- Decreasing risk of depression,
- Increasing attention, and
- Increasing communication skills and social interaction skills.
Today, many children are spending less time outdoors and more time in front of a TV or iPad. The increase in the amount of time spent inside on electronics not only increases the risk of obesity in children but also the risk of depression. Going outside to play allows for children to run, jump, skip, climb and be messy without creating a mess for the parents all while using up the child’s energy.
Strategies to get children to play outside more is by:
- Taking them to the park,
- Allowing your children to help plant flowers, wash the car, rake leaves, etc., and
- Giving them old kitchen utensils to play with in the dirt
Fun Activities that can be done outside include:
- Blowing bubbles,
- Drawing with sidewalk chalk,
- Gathering rocks and leaves, and
- Throwing/Kicking a ball.