Outdoor play in an early years setting provides great opportunities for children to play where they can learn to handle new situations and assess risk for themselves. Children that are energetic in their early years usually continue to be more active as they grow up. By encouraging younger children to spend more time outside and less with digital devices, you’re not only supporting your child’s physical health, but you’re supporting them to develop their intellectual and emotional well-being.
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), places a strong emphasis on the importance of everyday outdoor practices for children’s learning and growth. There is so much for them to see, discover and learn. Children who play in green spaces feel more focused, less tense and happier.
There are numerous health benefits to playing outside. Here we mention the Top 6 benefits of outdoor play
1. Brain Development
Outdoor play is essential to a child’s healthy brain development. When they are playing outside, they are designing games, exploring the world around them and coming into contact with feelings of independence. As children play, they learn more about the importance of making and following rules. The outdoor environment is particularly important to those children who learn best through active movement. Through their sensory and physical experiences, young children learn predominantly which supports brain development and the formation of neural networks.
2. Encourage a physically healthier lifestyle.
Outdoor play maintains the growth of a healthy and active way of life by offering children opportunities for physical activity, freedom and movement. Through challenges and physical activity, outdoors play supporting children to sleep, eat, and live more healthily. This encourages them to form healthy living habits.. Children playing outside get aerobic exercise and develop skills, for example pushing and pulling outdoor play tools.
Playing in the sun helps to develop vitamin D in the body, which means stronger bones and less likelihood of chronic diseases. The feeling of having physical space in which to move often results in a child being more ready to open up and talk about things with their parent or caregiver. Playing and learning outside also supports children to know and respect nature, the surroundings and the interdependence of animals, humans, plants, and life cycles.
3. Developing Motor Skills
Young children need the opportunity to use their full body and grow their gross motor skills. Children who play outside are more likely to enjoy activities like running, walking and cycling. When children are outside, they have the space to run, walk, jump, swing and experience involvement through all their senses, which in turn strengthens their physical and ‘mental’ muscles. Children need an outdoor environment that can provide space, places to explore, experiment, discover, be active and healthy, and develop their physical abilities.
4. Improve sensory skills
Outdoor play offers children a variety of sensory experiences which then helps to process them as they continue to develop and grow. The varying nature of the outdoors makes it an amazingly stimulating and multi-sensory place to play.
5. Social development
Children must learn how to work together and make new friends, how to share and collaborate and how to treat other people. Organised settings, for example school or sports teams, do not always provide the environment for children to develop social skills independently. Outdoor play can help children to develop social skills and how to cooperate with other children away from adult control.
6. Independence and emotional resilience of a child
The outdoor space in which children play can also provide opportunities for the child to develop independence, even when playing in groups. They can often attempt tasks and activities they wouldn’t be able to do indoors and apply problem-resolving strategies. The confidence that results from this will help them to develop their self identity and independence as they continue to develop.
If you have any questions or would like to find out more about the outdoor play opportunities at our centre, please call our office on 07 5527 1679.