Leaves, playgrounds, mud, dirt and sports. When some of us were kids, that’s all we had and that’s all we needed. Computers were relatively new with games that these days most of us wouldn’t even consider games.
Let’s fast forward to 2019, where approx. 80% of homes have internet, video games and cable TV.
A recent study by the National Trust found that children spend half the time playing outside than their parents did.
The study showed that children are playing outside for an average of just over four hours a week. This compares with over 8 hours a day for their parents when they were children.
There are many studies out there that showcase real benefits to playing outdoors. Here are a few of them:
Playing outdoors is great for encouraging creativity. Once pulled away from the confinements of staying indoors, being outside surrounded by nature often helps bring out the creative side of the brain.
In general, outdoor spaces are less crowded, which is less intimidating for the kids and makes them more comfortable to go out and socialize. Joining in games and activities will help them learn social skills and how to properly interact with other kids away from adult supervision.
The great outdoors in hands down the best place for getting exercise. From running and jumping to throwing, catching, lifting and pulling, children get aerobic exercise and gain skills. Studies show that children burn more calories outdoors, helping prevent obesity and at the same time strengthening bones and muscles. Additionally, the sun is an excellent natural source of vitamin D in the body.
Children who play outdoors on a regular basis are more self-directed, curious and likely to stick to a task for a longer period of time. Kids who spend most of their time indoors with few activities that require their own initiation and follow through show less ability to initiate new activities.
There are many studies that have examined the positive outcomes of children that spend time playing outdoors. The studies show that children that engage in outdoor play tend to be calmer, have fewer learning difficulties, are engaged in their learning, feel happier and sleep better as well!
Parents, let’s not make playing outdoors a thing of the past.
As a parent, we are the single largest influence in our child’s life. Encourage your kids to play outdoors. There are even ways to include today’s technology with outdoor activities, like a scavenger hunt app.
Be creative, get out there, and most importantly, Play On!