As the weather turns warmer and the days get longer, there is more opportunity for families to be outdoors. From a BBQ dinner on the deck to playing in a sandpit, the outdoors is a great space for the whole family to enjoy, explore and play together.
Over the past few decades kids are spending less time outdoors. Building forts and climbing trees have been replaced with iPad screens and computer games.
But playing outdoors has so many positive impacts on a child’s well-being, health and development. Here are just a few:
- It uses the imagination – Playing outdoors ignites curiosity, creativity and exploration. It encourages kids to explore the natural environment and inspires them to use their imagination, problem solve and play with others.
- Exercise – Children should be active for at least one hour a day, and playing outside with a ball, cubby cafe a bike or on a climbing frame, encourages physical activity and fitness.
- Playing with peers – Playing outdoors encourages interaction and socialisation. Whether it’s playing shops or hide and seek, the outdoors encourages kids to facilitate and create their own games. By playing with others in an unstructured environment, kids are independently learning important skills of how to share and cooperate.
- Improves balance and strength – From being pushed on a swing to climbing up a scramble net to testing yourself on a Ninja set, being outdoors will improve a child’s strength and agility. Outdoor toys and equipment can improve balance and coordination and also develop self-confidence.
- Improves eyesight – Being away from screens and having lots of exposure to natural light will reduce the chance of children developing short-sightedness later in life.
- Prevents vitamin D deficiency: Exposure to natural light increases our vitamin D levels, which plays a crucial role in the way our body processes – from bone development to our immune system. Vitamin D also reduces the chance of bone problems, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other health issues.
- Better sleep. Exposure to lots of sunlight and physical activity can positively impact a child’s sleeping routine and improve their overall mood.
- Improves the immune system – By playing outdoors kids are more likely to be exposed to various strains of bacteria found in dirt and soil. Encountering bacteria regularly will help a child’s immune system and improve a child’s gut microbiota.
- Appreciation of nature – As our world becomes more governed by technology, it’s important to return to our roots (pun intended!). A child who grows up digging in sand, playing with animals, and collecting plants, will be better connected to the world around them.
- Developing lifelong healthy habits – Active healthy kids are more likely to grow into active healthy adults. Spending time outdoors when their young, will help establish healthy life habits.