"Show them how to look after our environment by letting them practise it in real life"
Here is a list of 10 great benefits of outdoor play:
- Gives new and exciting learning opportunities. Picking up a rock and finding lots of mini-beasts underneath, for example, is such an amazing opportunity to develop language, understanding of the world and to learn about caring for living things.
- Improves physical health. Children are able to exercise on a much greater level than they can inside, plus they breathe in fresh air whilst doing so. Win/win.
- Boosts social and communication skills – when outside, children are likely to be moving around a lot more, navigating one another and negotiating the toys they are playing with. What better opportunity to get them interacting with their peers and solving any problems. This also boosts self-esteem.
- Allows you to make the most of wet/windy weather. Teach children that it can be fun to splash in puddles, play under an umbrella and fly ribbons and scarves in the wind. Don’t forget that many parents will just stay indoors in such weather so if you don’t let children experience this, then they may not ever get the chance. This is also yet another opportunity to develop language and understanding of the world.
- Encourages good mental health. As adults we are told that fresh air and exercise is good for our mental health. It’s the same for children.
- Gives the opportunity to develop gross motor skills as well as fine motor skills. When you are indoors, it is a lot easier to provide activities that develop fine motor skills than gross motor skills, but they are both extremely important. Many outside play areas give children the opportunity to climb/swing/throw – all of which are developing gross motor skills. Children are also able to mark-make on a large scale, for example using chalk on the ground or painting water on the walls.
- Teaches children how to look after our environment. We can tell children about this from outdoors but we know the best way for them to learn something is to experience it. Show them how to look after our environment by letting them practise it in real life.
- You get to take learning to a child’s favourite activity. If you have a child that is reluctant to engage in a particular activity, then try taking it outside and mixing it in with something that they love.
- Teaches about the local area - Going for a walk teaches children about their community, plus they will also begin to learn the basics of road safety.
- Offers different sensory experiences – this can be both things specific to outside, such as digging in the mud, or it could be bringing an indoors activity outside, but experiencing it in the wind or sunshine.
About the author
Gina Smith is an experienced teacher with experience of teaching in both mainstream and special education. She is the creator of ‘Create Visual Aids’ – a business that provides both homes and education settings with bespoke visual resources. Gina recognises the fact that no two children are the same and therefore individuals are likely to need different resources. Create Visual Aids is dedicated to making visual symbols exactly how the individual needs them.