May 03, 2011

benefits of outdoor play

I think we all know intuitively how important it is to spend time outdoors. You don’t really need a bunch of scientific research to tell you what you already know: being outside is important to physical and mental health at every age.

There are so many sensations and discoveries to be had – the feel of the breeze on your skin, the tickly feeling of a ladybug walking across your palm, the fragrance of dozens of different flowers, the delight of dewy grass under your toes.

Kids are naturally enchanted by the outdoors. You just have to visit your local beach or park to see countless examples of children fascinated by the natural world. Spending time outside is one of those perfect things where it’s so good for a child’s development but you don’t have to convince them to engage in it. They want to!

Thank goodness, because playing outdoors is as good for a child’s body and mind as it is fun. Playing outside boasts a huge range of benefits. It helps a child develop dexterity and physical strength from all that running, climbing and jumping. It encourages kids to engage and interact with the world and all the people, plants and animals that inhabit it. Playing outdoors is great for developing imagination (that stick is suddenly a magic wand full of possibilities) and cognitive skills (just what do you have to do to make the tallest sandcastle ever?). Kids who play outside are often more confident and laugh more than children who don’t.

But most of all, interacting with nature is one of the great joys in life!

So take advantage of summer and get outside with the kids at every opportunity! Fly a kite, go on a nature scavenger hunt, build a sandcastle, do somersaults in the park, blow bubbles, skip rocks into the ocean, walk in the woods and marvel at the light spilling through the leaves – whatever you fancy!

Happy Summer everyone!

Photo 2 and 3 from ashleyannphotography.com, photo 4 from travelpod.com photo 5 from kiteland.ca

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