Children love to play. It is not only fun but also essential for growth and development. During these early years, play should not be restricted to indoors only. Outdoor play is equally important and an inevitable part of a child’s life.
Encouraging children to play outdoors is becoming more important considering the changing lifestyles. Today, children spend number of hours watching television and playing games on the computer. But at the same time, children need to get out and have some fun! They need time and space for free play and movement. It is that time during the day where children have complete freedom to run and jump about, and make noise. It is a perfect way to make children more energetic, creative and enthusiastic.
The benefits of outdoor play are numerous
- Children interact with nature. They learn through the different sounds, smells, and sight of things present in the environment. As children manipulate materials such as sand or water, their tactile experiences are enhanced. The weather or the season also plays a critical role.
- Physical and motor skills in children develop rapidly. Large muscles are developed as children engage in activities such as running, jumping, climbing etc. It builds strength and fosters coordination.
- Outdoor play can enhance a child’s intellectual and cognitive development. The outdoors provides endless opportunities for exploration and discovery. Children are able to discover how things work, and they also to learn about plants, animals, insects, and the environment in general.
- Social development and interaction are also important aspects of outdoor play. Children learn to differentiate between behaviors that are appropriate outdoors as well as indoors. Sharing, negotiating and communication are all important skills that children learn while playing with other children. Additionally, children can begin to experience independence.
- Creative skills are enhanced. Playing outdoors gives the children an opportunity to explore, and investigate and develop their inquisitive minds.
- Children can create dramatic play outdoors with very little material. Allow them to create dramatic play with their minds. Let them explore their environment through their minds.
- Most important it gives the child the freedom. Giving children the time for unstructured play is very important.
While outdoor play is fun we must ensure to make it safe too. Supervise children closely as they play. It is important that children have the opportunity during a day to experience play where they can enhance their abilities and safely explore the world around them.