Outdoor play is an important aspect of early childhood. It contributes to key physical and mental development, which can play a role in physical health later on in life.
Here are some reasons why outdoor play in the early years is so important.
Builds a connection with nature and the outdoors
Outdoor play helps children to develop a connection with nature and in doing so understand the world around them. This can help them to understand environmental sustainability and why it’s so important to look after our planet.
Increases physical activity
A 2018 report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showed that 64% of 5 – 8 year olds failed to meet the recommended amount of daily physical activity. Outdoor play not only increases physical activity but it also encourages an active lifestyle. According to the Early Years Resources, those who are active in childhood will go on to lead a more active outdoors lifestyle. This increase in physical activity also helps to develop muscle strength and co-ordination.
Allows for Imaginative Play & builds on Social Skills
The great outdoors allows for unstructured play time. This can lead to imaginative play where children make up activities and games using the world around them – e.g. Pretending to be pirates with a playground / tree as the ship. The outdoors also allows for building on social skills by playing games like hide & seek, and chasey. The interaction with others their own age helps to build their skills and develop their confidence.
Develops understanding of risk
Outdoor play allows children to develop an understanding of, and experience risk. It allows them to discover how fast they can run, how quickly they can spin, and the exhilaration of swinging high in the air. In short it allows them to better understand their own abilities and develop resilience as they’re doing so.
So what are you waiting for? Rain, hail or shine, it’s time to get out in the great outdoors!