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With video games, streaming services, and devices doing their best to keep our children inside, it can often feel easier as a parent to let them stay in and look at a screen since it usually keeps them contented and quiet. However, outdoor play has its uses, and it's more important than ever that kids experience the thrill of playing freely outside. We've gathered together a list of our favourite reasons why children should be playing outdoors:
Running, jumping, climbing, and generally going wild outside in the garden, playground, or local park helps children develop and improve their agility, balance, and stamina. Physical activities such as those mentioned earlier and bike riding, playing catch, and playing on swings can challenge your child's body, strengthening their physical abilities and bodies for the future.
Getting a little sunshine and fresh air during the day and some exercise can help your kids sleep better at night. Outdoor play uses up a lot of energy, giving kids the chance to sleep better and drift off easier, so they feel well-rested every day.
Being outdoors can help children develop their independence and self-esteem by discovering boundaries and the limits and challenges of their play, leading to a more confident and self-assured child. Confidence in children can lead them to try new activities, play with others and make friends, and explore the environment around them.
Aside from helping kids be active, playing outdoors can support children's bones to grow stronger and increase their natural absorption of Vitamin D, which helps boost mood. It can even help to strengthen their immune systems as they're exposed to a more biologically-diverse environment full of microbes and bacteria that their bodies build a natural immunity to.
Often, children's play is influenced by the toys or games they play inside. If they have a car playset, they'll come up with car games, and if they have a doll, they might end up playing Mummies & Daddies. When they're removed from these constraints and put into an open, unstructured environment like a garden or park, they tap into their creativity and develop more imaginative, unique games, giving them more freedom with their play.
When playing in parks or playgrounds, children will often be confronted with the fact that the slide or the swings might already be occupied. This forces them to learn how to wait and be patient for their turn and consider how other children might feel if they're forced off a toy or spoken to rudely, making them more empathetic. It also gives them the chance to learn social cues and expand their communication abilities.
It would help make the outside appealing to your children, making it feel like an exciting adventure. If you're able to get excited about the great outdoors, then your children are more likely to enjoy it too. If it's a particular struggle to get them outside, start small in the garden with a football game or catch, go on a treasure hunt, or bring one of your child's favourite indoor toys with you.
Once children get used to playing outside, you'll soon find they'll want to go out of their own accord! You can read one of the articles below or browse our expansive Outdoor Play collection for more outdoor inspiration.