‘Nature breeds curiosity; it helps to grow explorers rather than robots. It reminds us that we are part of something bigger. It grounds us, calms us.’-Ben Palmer Fry
Spring is on its way and with it comes the opportunity to observe nature changing before our eyes. Get outside with children and be part of the transformation!
It doesn’t matter if the days are bright and sunny, rainy, snowy, warm or cold. Outdoor play is always worth the effort. As long as it is safe, outdoor play can be fun, purposeful, full of opportunities to explore and provide endless learning experiences for children.
The outdoors provides a classroom full of colors, sounds, textures, shapes and endless opportunities for unstructured play that are hard to replicate indoors. Unstructured play promotes confidence and autonomy. Each time the seasons change, children can use their imagination and exercise creativity during their play that incorporates things specific to each season.
What are the benefits of promoting learning and development outdoors?
Physical Development Benefits
Children tend to be more active during outdoor play as there is often a lot more space to move around. Exercise and movement while playing outdoors, promotes healthy growth and development. Running, skipping, throwing, jumping, climbing activities and more are typical activities that increase physical skills. Some ideas for getting active outdoors: jump in leaf piles, chase blowing leaves on a windy day, or do barrel rolls across fluffy blades of grass.
Hands on learning experiences provided by nature can help children learn new things through their senses. Children’s senses are stimulated by what they see, hear, feel and touch while outdoors and the options when outdoors are endless, from leaves to flowers to birds singing and the wind blowing. Encourage children to use their senses to explore as they splash in puddles, make mud pies, or catch the rain on their tongue.
Outdoor play increases a child’s imagination, curiosity and healthy risk taking. Provide opportunities to explore and experiment with new materials so children can tap into critical thinking skills, problem solving skills and creativity. To help children stretch their creative thinking muscles, build a snowman, go on a scavenger hunt or create a work of art using only natural materials.
The health benefits of outdoor play are important also. Children exposed to the natural elements and outdoor play have exposure to sunlight and open air which aide in bone development, a stronger immune system and increased ability for focused attention. According to NAEYC, “Time spent outside can lead to better physical and mental health, improved sleep, cognitive, social, and emotional gains for young children.”
The possibilities are endless on things to do and imagine while playing outdoors. Spend time together in the backyard or at your local park and enjoy the adventure and learning opportunities of the great outdoors!