Outdoor Play and Brain Development : Benefits and Tips

Being active not only allows body growth but also stimulates the brain. When kids find something that challenges the brain they’ll engage in activity without even thinking about it. When using sensory, physical and emotional action, then brain cells work faster. Even jumping over a log several times, the body is teaching the brain over and over again, and it’s all of vital importance in development and growth.

“The more you keep children sitting, the less attentive they become.”

Dr Tony Pelligrini, American Education Researcher.

10 Best benefits of outdoor play for all development

  1. Health values: A happy child is a healthy one and kids are more active when outside enabling them to build strong bones and maintain good fitness levels.
  2. Well-being: as this makes them calmer and kids get natural vitamin D which in turn provides a positive mental attitude. They also get rid of pent up energy.
  3. Exploration: Outdoor play can hold more risk but they’ll be challenged, which in turn is great for brain development and teaches them confidence.
  4. Independence: By learning to play by themselves, how to pick themselves up if they fall, and how to play with other kids and take turns in the game.
  5. Creativity: Being outdoors offers stimulation and allows the child a different type of freedom and enables them to be creative.
  6. Learning: Being outdoors offers a whole range of opportunities outside of the home or classroom. They’ll learn new experiences which will become an ongoing process.
  7. Social skills: This enables kids to mix with other children, enabling them to build on their social skills. There’s usually more space outside so children can be freer to fully exercise mind and body and enjoy fun play.
  8. Learn more about their bodies.
  9. Get over some of their fears.
  10. Develop self-control.

“The best classroom and the richest cupboard is roofed only by the sky.”

Margaret McMillan, Educational and Theorist of Nursery Education –Barnado’s

Green is best

Outdoor play creates opportunities for new skills, creativity and a new appreciation. Natural playscapes offer diversity in all sensory and physical stimulation and the child is often happier playing in a green space.  All green landscapes have a real effect on social and brain development.  They’ll enjoy an array of experiences which is vital for their own personal values and actions.

Outdoor play after dark

Playing outdoors after dark can be very exciting and challenging. Take the family for a dark walk and play games making sure they are safe and don’t lose sight of you. Playing ghosts is fun and making noises too, and remember to take a torch to light up trees and objects. This is a whole new area of playtime and teaches children not to be afraid of the dark.

“Being outdoors provides children with developmental benefits that cannot be replicated indoors.”

Kathryn Solly –Nursery World

 

Play in any season

Everyone loves summer, but teach your child about the seasons and how to play in all weather conditions.  They’ll enjoy their own make believe worlds, whether it’s raining sunny windy or snowy.  Weather diversity plays an important part of all play and outdoor play is crucial for brain development.  No child should become obese and a good playtime workout, whatever the game enables your child to remain happy and healthy at all levels.

Recreating your own childhood

Share your outdoor experiences with your child and if you were lucky enough to live by a beach or a wood, and then create games you used to play and see how they react. Making dens hide and seek and chase among bushes or sand dunes are timeless activities and kids love to make their own fun in a free natural environment, often asking you to join in.

Many kids miss out these days

Many parents see time as an issue in playing outside or supervising kids, and it’s often easier to sit them in front of a TV or screen. This is unhealthy and should be discouraged for long spells. When kids are outside they can make more noise, release energy, find more places to explore and try out new games. They’ll be fitter and healthier in the long term. It’s a well known fact that the more you keep kids sitting, the less attentive they become. Being outdoors enables them to feel calm and relaxed at the end of a happy play day.

Quick checklist for outdoor play

Image credits : 
Freepik

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