6 Reasons Why Kids Need Outdoor Play to Learn & Thrive

Science tells us outdoor play is crucial for kids to learn and thrive! Take advantage of weekends and school holidays and send ’em outside. 

As the school term comes to an end and we take a break from our more regimented term lives it’s a great opportunity to send the kids outside!

Urban living and our kids’ addiction to technology are all reasons children are missing out on important time spent outside. It’s not just fresh air and sunshine they’re missing, science tells us there is health, wellbeing and developmental impacts of being an ‘indoor kid’.

Educator and Spokesperson Freya Lucas (of Community Kids Childcare & Early Learning Centres) says there’s a multitude benefits for kids being outside and that its imperative children have both time outside each day and enough space to play. Here’s just some of the reasons why…

  • Outdoor play fuels imagination
    When children play outside, the “equipment” is limited, and the imagination is limitless. Children are more likely to invent games when they play outside, and as they do, they learn important skills such as decision making, negotiation, organisation and autonomy.
  • “Outside” is nature’s art gallery
    Children develop aesthetic awareness and an appreciation for the beautiful planet the natural world provides by being immersed in it. As sensorial learners, children are hard wired to notice the small details of sights, sounds and textures. Being outside wakes up these senses and cues children to look for the beauty in everything around them.
  • Outdoor play gives busy bodies the most space to move
    With more than 30,000 children severely obese in Australia, according to research conducted by Associate Professor Sarah Garnett from Sydney’s Westmead Children’s Hospital, giving children time, space and resources to move is critical to the health and wellbeing of our future generations.
  • Risky outdoor play teaches resilience
    Ever heard the phrase ‘better a skinned knee than a broken spirit’? Children who experience risk and challenge in outdoor play also have an opportunity to experiment – with physics, with their capabilities, with their capacity – and to develop resilience.
  • Exposure to nature reduces stress
    It’s also been scientifically proven to significantly reduce ADHD symptoms, such as inattention and impulsivity, according to a University of Illinois study, published in 2004. Being outdoors in nature prevents attention fatigue, and children’s stress levels fall within minutes of seeing green spaces.
  • Exposure to natural light is imperative for good eye sight
    A constant lack of natural light can put children at risk of myopia or nearsightedness. Research by Queensland University of Technology has found that children who spend less than 60 mins per day in outdoor light could have problems seeing things in the distance.

Here’s 12 Ideas to Encourage Your Kids Outside

  1. Get a Bug Catcher or Ant Farm – not just outside play but a cool, school holidays project
  2. Put a rope ladder in a tree and let the kids explore the world from above
  3. Buy that trampoline the kids have been begging for
  4. Before it gets too cold let the kids play with the hose and buckets
  5. Let the kids assist you with a gardening or planting project
  6. Set up a blanket fort or buy the kids a teepee or tent
  7. Ask the neighbours over for a backyard cricket match
  8. Let the kids run wild with a Nerf Gun War
  9. Hand them an old paint brush and a bucket of water, younger children love to ‘paint’ the fence or house bricks
  10. Get the bikes, scooters or trikes out of the garage
  11. Use chalk to draw on the driveway or side walk
  12. Hand the kids a rake and ask them to pile up the sleeves – watch an Autumn fight ensue!

These school holidays take advantage of your children’s extra free time and send them out to play! Of course it’ll give you some sanity time (bonus!) but the science and experts say you’re actually doing them a favour!

Here’s to the great outdoors Mum, hide the tech devices, rug them up as required and tell your kids it’s time to ‘get out!’ 

Avatar of Victoria Louis

Mother-of-two. Tea lover. Lego Ninja. Expert in carpet Play Dough extraction. Victoria Louis is a 30-something writer based in Sydney, NSW. A former marketing manager who loves to laugh there’s no topic she won’t explore. Victoria is full of opinion, big on kindness and believes the day is always better with a dash of lipstick.

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