“Outdoor play is such an important part of childhood and one that is often overlooked,” says Claire, mum of two girls, outdoor play advocate and creator and blogger at The Ladybird’s Adventures.
“We love spending time outdoors as a family,” she says. “I find that my kids need time outdoors every day… That’s why you’ll usually find us on an outdoor adventure, rain or shine.” In this guest blog, she explores the importance of outdoor play, because, as she points out, “Childhood is short and no one remembers their best ever day of watching TV!”
Read Claire’s tips on the importance of outdoor play, and if you’re looking for inspiration on what to do outside, check out our blog on 5 Ways to Explore the World Without Leaving Your Back Garden.
The importance of outdoor play
Children are naturally drawn to being outside but the amount of outdoor play that children get is declining year on year. My own children are seven and four years old, they love spending time outdoors. When I’m not in a tent, at the beach or exploring the woods, you’ll find me sharing our adventures and ideas for outdoor play on my blog, The Ladybirds’ Adventures. First let me tell you some of the many benefits of outdoor play so that you understand why you should be getting your kids outside.
1. It helps increase physical fitness and reduces levels of childhood obesity
Playing outside gives children the space and freedom to run, climb, jump and much more. All of these are fantastic gross motor activities which are so important for kids’ development. Physical activity also helps reduce childhood obesity, although other factors such as diet can also contribute.
2. It reduces stress and mental illness
Children today are often put under stress at school with frequent assessments and exams. Getting them outside allows them to run free and let off steam. Spending time outside is also stress relieving for adults too.
3. It increases their confidence
This one is an often-overlooked benefit but outdoor play can lead to increased levels of confidence. Perhaps they climb that bit higher in a tree each time you go out or they learn to walk on a fallen log without holding your hand. Either way learning new skills boosts their confidence.
4. It increases vitamin D levels
Vitamin D is so important for children and adults alike. The best source of this essential vitamin is sunlight so spending time outdoors naturally helps boost vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is important for healthy bone, teeth and muscle development.
5. It can improve problem-solving skills and increase the ability to assess risks
Children need to take some risks and outdoor play is a great place to start. Climbing trees or walking across stepping stones are great examples of how children learn to assess risks. Where should I put my foot next? How far can I safely stretch? By spending time outdoors doing these kind of physical activities children are learning to risk assess and solve problems, skills that they will need for life.
6. It increases their concentration
Similarly to problem solving and risk assessing, climbing trees involves concentration. Again, by practicing this skill in their outdoor play they will naturally start to transfer this skill to other areas of their life like the classroom.
7. It develops their natural curiosity and connects them with nature
Children’s minds are constantly learning and growing. They’re naturally interested in learning about the world around them. Perhaps your child would enjoy hunting for bugs using a magnifying glass or maybe watching the birds using a pair of Geosafari Jr Kidnoculars Extreme is something they’d enjoy more.
I hope that I’ve managed to convince you that it’s time to start prioritising outdoor play. If I have, great! But if your still wondering where to start then head over to my own blog where I’ve recently shared a post with ideas for 100 things to do outside with kids.
Thanks for reading!
About the author: “Hi, I’m Claire, mum to two young girls. I want their childhoods to be filled with adventure, creativity and exploration. If you want the same for your children, you’ve come to the right place.” Follow Claire on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more outdoor kids activities.