With tablets and televisions in almost every home and learning space, children don’t play outside as much as they used to. While tablets and televisions certainly have a place, outdoor play is an essential element of children’s physical and social development. Getting outside can benefit children’s wellbeing, not to mention be part of making some great childhood memories!
Here are five specific reasons why, as child care workers and trainers, we believe that children should be encouraged to play outside more.
- Physical exercise
It’s obvious but it’s true – physical exercise is vital to children’s health and wellbeing. In fact, the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that in 2008 one quarter of Australian children aged from 5-17 were overweight or obese. Getting outside and running around or kicking a ball is a must. It’s also great for building children’s motor skills.
- Learning about the world around us
Much like on the job training, children learn from a combination of practical and theoretical approach. Reading about birds, trees and butterflies is one thing – going outside to see, feel and experience these things gives children a full and rich educational experience.
- Fresh air
Too often it is thought that colds are caught from being out in the cold. It’s worth noting that this is not usually the case and in fact we tend to get colds more in the cold weather because we spend more time indoors with the heater on! Dress according to the weather and get outside for some fresh air.
- Improved vision
Research has shown that playing outdoors in natural light could prevent the epidemic of myopia (short sightedness) in children.
This was previously believed to be a result of excessive screen time, but new research has shown that the increased time spent indoors and away from natural light is a contributing factor too.
- Calms the mind
It’s not just physical health that benefits from playing outside. Mental health can also be affected. Children who get out and about and are exposed to green spaces are known to be happier, less stressed and more creative. Most child care workers would agree having seen this firsthand!
Next time you’re considering how to plan a day for the children in your care, don’t overlook the importance – and fun – of playing outside!
Child care workers get to have all the fun, including getting paid to explore new ways for children to play! For guidance in commencing your career working with children, Practical Outcomes is where you need to be. Get in touch below.