Top 10 reasons why playing outdoors is so important for children
The summer holidays are in full swing, and while we all may dream of warmer climates, summer in Ireland is the perfect chance for children to play outdoors. Playing outdoors isn't just fun for children it's great for their health and development.
If you have forgotten how magical playing outside as a child was, consider our top 10 reasons to encourage your child to play outdoors.
- Being outside gives children unique opportunities for experience with all their senses; physical activities, observations, art, science, mathematics, language, developing social skills, building and constructing with sand, water and mud, and dramatic play.
- Children have the freedom to shout and make noise, the space to be more expansive in their physical movements, which sparks their imaginations, and more places to hide in and explore. Children can also be messier outdoors, which encourages them to be more creative and to try things out and experiment.
- Spending a lot of time getting physical exercise outdoors when they are young helps children to develop positive lifestyle habits that are good for their health generally, and also helps to prevent obesity.
- Children also get lots of vitamin D from sunlight, which is vital for strong bones and teeth and a healthy immune system.
- Research shows that movement and thinking skills are powerfully connected. Movement and activity encourages brain growth and improves children’s attention and their memory.
- Children’s well-being and their ability to understand as well as to control their feelings and emotions also increases from being outdoors as they relax and feel calm.
- Free play has been shown to help children to heal from stress and trauma in the same way as being able to cry does.
- Young children learn through the type of place or environment they are in and have particularly deep connections with nature and the outdoors. If this is not encouraged, children may not maintain these connections as they get older.
- Children’s right to play is so important that it is recognised in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- We now know from research in biology, in neuroscience, in genetics and in psychology that, aside from what a child inherits through their genes, the development of the actual structure of a child’s brain depends on the experiences and opportunities they have as they grow.
For more information on the benefits of outdoor play you can download our free ebook Outdoor Play Matters below.