For children, play time is more than just a period in a day when they run amok (often leaving a trail of toys for you to clean up after). It is a period in which they are learning through play, where emotional, social and cognitive developments are taking place. According to many studies, children learn through play best during the first 5 years of their lives. This is known as the “critical period” where they’re curious and explorative minds fuel this learning.
Many parents struggle to strike a balance between indoor play and outdoor play for their children, concerned with the potential dangers surrounding the outdoors and tempted by the convenience of digital learning resources. While your TV, tablet and mobile phones may sometimes be the answers to calming your children down, giving children the opportunity to experience outdoor play can greatly aid their motor and social skills among other things. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air.”
There are uncountable benefits for your children to engage in outdoor play and we’ve highlighted our top 5. Read on to find out which ones you’ve already found out for yourself!
1. Improves Sleeping Patterns
Is bedtime fast becoming a nightmare for both you and your toddler? It’s most probably because he or she isn’t spending enough time playing in the outdoors! With the most obvious advantage being the fatigue that accompanies playtime, hence helping children fall asleep quicker, the outdoors also help to establish a healthier sleep-wake cycle for them.
Getting them to fall asleep is one thing. Staying asleep is another. Sufficient outdoor play improves their sleep quality, including the duration they remain asleep as well as reducing the number of times they wake up in the middle of the night (a bonus for you and we know!). Better sleep is critical for regulating hormone production too!
2. Increases Vitamin D
Let’s first bust a myth: is it possible for your children to get too much vitamin D?
There is no such thing as an “excess” of or “too much” vitamin D. However, don’t forget to provide sufficient sunblock for them to protect their skin! Vitamin D is essential for your children’s bodies to help their bones and teeth absorb calcium, fortifying them as they develop and grow. A little known fact about vitamin D is that it’s also an excellent immunity booster, even helping to prevent chronic diseases from developing in your children as they mature into adulthood.
3. Helps in the Formation Of Better Values
At our preschool in Bartley, our innovative programme intentionally creates stimulating environments to inculcate values in your children. In the same way, outdoor play can become purposeful play when they spend time among nature, developing an appreciation and love for their natural environment. Who doesn’t love a good little steward?
Essential social skills can also be cultivated by spending more time outdoors as children often engage in group activities with other children. Whether in the form of games or competitive sports, these will teach them lifelong skills such as patience, compassion and the importance of sharing. Children might be able to learn skills like these from educational videos but it’s in social settings that they’ll get to practice them!
4. Helps to Regulate Emotions Better
One of the biggest benefits that children learn through play, especially in the outdoors, is the ability to exercise self-regulation (of their own emotions). Squabbles with other children at the playground or at the sandbox will present multiple scenarios in which they can learn to overcome such difficult or challenging situations. With the help of an adult to guide them, this self-awareness will be instrumental in improving their problem-solving skills. Being able to remain calm also builds their confidence and self-esteem!
5. Better Social Skills
In an environment like our preschool in Bartley, children are fully immersed in social settings throughout the day, providing numerous opportunities for them to acquire social skills through purposeful play. Some of these include exercising their imagination and learning teamwork.
Similarly, when you give them more time to play in the outdoors with others, they learn how to cooperate with fellow playmates and teamwork often necessitates other related skills like persuasion and encouragement. The ability to express oneself not only helps to nurture healthier friendships for them but to also reduce their stress levels.
So the next time you’re tempted to settle for indoor play, consider these essential benefits for the growth and development of your children! Perhaps, too, you could use some time playing in the outdoors.