With the increase in available technology, more and more children are spending their time indoors on electronic devices. However, playing outdoors can be extremely beneficial for children.
Here are some reasons why you should encourage your child to get away from the screens and get outside.
It’s much easier for a child to get exercise outdoors than it is indoors. Make it a goal to keep your child active for an hour a day. Playing outside, especially playing ball games or on a playground, encourages active play, which is both fun and beneficial for children. Playground equipment offers opportunities for children to get aerobic exercise and to improve motor skills.
While it’s important to always wear sunscreen and to avoid sunburns, don’t forget that our bodies need time in the sun. Lack of sun exposure can lead to a deficiency of vitamin D, which plays a crucial role in many body processes from bone development to having a healthy immune system. Sun exposure can also help regulate sleep and improve moods. Outdoor light stimulates the pineal gland, which is vital to keeping immune systems strong and the mind happy. Keep it in moderation, but your child will be at his or her best after some sunshine time.
Creativity and Brain Functioning
Your child needs to develop certain skills to be successful, such as planning, prioritizing, troubleshooting and negotiating. In order to learn these skills, children need to learn and practice them on their own. Unstructured play time helps children to develop these skills through imagination and creative problem-solving. Let them explore and figure things out for themselves. Children who play outdoors regularly are more curious and have increased attention spans. Playground equipment is designed to test and educate children while they play. They will have fun and won’t even realize that they are learning.
Love of Nature
Help your child learn to appreciate the planet we live on by letting them play outside. If they spend all of their time staring at a screen, they’ll never know what their missing by not getting out and playing in the dirt and sand. This planet is the only one we get; if you teach your child to appreciate nature now they are more likely to grow into environmentally conscious adults.
Parents, we know this part scares you. But children need to take some risks to learn what they can and can’t do so that they can build confidence and bravery. You can’t learn or push your limits if you live in a bubble.
Playgrounds offer a unique opportunity for children to get out and play together. Through unstructured play, they can learn important skills such as teamwork, empathy, cooperation and sharing. Children need interaction with other children to learn positive behavioral skills and to learn how to get along with each other.
Improved sensory skills
Studies have shown that children who play outside regularly are less likely to develop nearsightedness than children who are always indoors. Children learn new things through their senses, so it’s important to exercise all of them. A kid glued to a television or tablet only uses hearing and sight, which can negatively affect development of perceptual abilities. In comparison, a child who plays outdoors uses smell and touch as well as hearing and sight. Try to keep them from tasting the outdoors though…with the exception of healthy, parent or teacher-supplied snacks.