Forget the toys, video games, and cartoons. Time spent in the great outdoors is at the top of any child’s list of favorite things to do.
The fresh air, the endless possibilities for fun, and the amazing feeling of exploring nature and all it has to offer. Outside is where they need to be. So much to do and so much to learn.
Here are 10 ways that playing outside makes kids smarter:
1. Time Spent Outside Improves Children’s Immune Systems
The fresh air and exercise that children experience while playing outside, helps strengthen their immune system. Healthy kids are stronger learners. Less sick days leads to more time for exploration and learning.
2. Outdoor Play Stimulates Creativity
Playing outside leads to all kinds of creative play for kids. Using their imagination and inventiveness to create games or scenarios outside using natural materials – sticks, rocks, dirt, leaves, etc. – allows children to express themselves in a way that can’t be duplicated indoors.
3. Playing Outside Is Open-Ended
There are no rules. There is no right or wrong. When playing outside, children can just discover, explore, and learn about the world in their own way and on their own terms.
4. Outdoor Play Is Good For The Soul
Playing outside reduces anxiety, relieves stress, and results in overall increased health – both mental and physical. This can lead to a more relaxed approach when it comes to traditional learning, both in the classroom and at home.
5. Playing Outside Is A Multi-Sensory Experience
When children are outdoors, they see, hear, smell, and touch things in a way that isn’t possible indoors. Kids engage in a whole new way of thinking as they begin to understand these experiences.
6. Outdoor Play Can Lead To An Increased Attention Span
Children who struggle in the classroom with traditional “pen and paper” tasks or sitting still for long periods of time, can benefit greatly from more time spent outdoors. The unstructured and open-ended play is a natural attention builder.
7. Playing Outside Can Reinforce Classroom Learning
Getting out into the “real world” to experience classroom lessons first-hand, allows children to make a more meaningful connection to new concepts and ideas. Learning about trees or the different types of clouds? Head outdoors and explore them hands-on. Children are better able to understand and remember these lessons when they are tied to real-life experiences.
8. Outdoor Play Promotes Problem Solving
Exploring outside introduces children to all kinds of situations in which they need to use their problem solving skills. Learning what works and what doesn’t work, when to keep trying and when to stop, and how to make safe choices, are all important life skills that are introduced when playing outdoors.
9. Playing Outside Helps Children Develop Respect For Other Living Things
Watching squirrels scurry across the grass and up a tree, observing the birds searching for worms in a field, and examining a caterpillar as it crawls across the sidewalk are all experiences that teach kids empathy and respect for other beings. By interacting with creatures in nature, children learn how to empathize and respect all living things.
10. Playing Outdoors Is Fun
Climbing, jumping, and running outside makes kids happy. Happy children are successful learners. The joy that exploring outdoors provides for children, carries over into other aspects of their lives – in the classroom and at home.
How do you incorporate outdoor play into your child’s daily life? Feel free to share in the comments below.