The sun may not always be shinning this summer but that doesn’t mean little ones can’t get out into the fresh air and explore the world around them. Just as kids need a quiet place to sit and reflect, so too do they need a noisy space to move their bodies.
Whilst excessive time spent indoors shown to increase a child’s chance of obesity, attention problems, hyperactivity and the lack of appreciation for the outdoor world, several studies have uncovered a correlation between play and academic achievement; and more.
The Benefits of Outdoor Play
Outdoor play helps them to burn off pent-up energy and calories, socialise with other children, and invigorate their brains. Plus in the classroom the impact can be seen further, it helps improve children’s attention and classroom behaviour.
Encouraging children to play outdoors is therefore paramount, and whilst they may no longer be as happy just playing the traditional hop-scotch or marbles there are a plethora of toys and early years resources available to promote outside play, come rain or shine; from physical activity play including climbing frames and dens, to trikes and sand & water tables; currently a firm favourite in many nurseries and childcare centres. It enables nursery teachers and assistants to take what was once called ‘indoor play’ (arts and crafts), to the big outdoors.
Beating the Wet Weather
Creating an all weather play area could be the answer to wetter times in the UK, building a shelter or using a gazebo to extend the outdoor opportunities, many establishments are already doing so, and the children love the extension to their school and learning.
It’s not just in nurseries and childcare environments, at home parents should be looking to spend more quality time with their children, be it in the garden or local parks; current research revealed families now spend an average of a mere 2.5 days per month in their garden. Whether it be supervised play, imaginative play or help with the gardening, getting kids active and outside, whatever the weather, is truly beneficial. If you were to ask adults about their childhood summers many tend to say that some of their happiest memories as a child were the times that they spent outside playing games.
Feeding your Kids Curiosity
Whilst many recent news stories have reported that parents are fearful of letting their kids outside, the long term benefits of allowing them to do so should hopefully out way the worries, after all outdoor play can still be supervised or shared with other friends at home in the back garden.
Young children have a natural curiosity for exploring, manipulating and finding and their engagement and understanding deepens with the interest they have in the world around them. With a summer of huge sporting, outdoor events there really is no better time to encourage outdoor pursuits; creating a mini Olympics, creating flags and banners to cheer the competitors on, whatever you choose to do it’s about getting outside, often, and being imaginative in ways that draw children up and out, encouraging them to be active and confident in tackling challenges.
Many teachers and nursery managers believe that the best way to learn is through play.
Jack McKenzie is a PE teacher based in UK and writes on Davies Sports equipment covering everything from raquet sports to fitness supplies. He is also a coach at his local footbal team in south London.