Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Value of Outdoor Play With Kids

Many of today's parents fondly remember childhood days spent playing outdoors. When children make mud pies and observe ants, it may seem like just fun and games, but the truth is unstructured outdoor play is an important part of growing up healthy. The National Association for the Education of Young Children reports that outdoor play reduces stress and restlessness in children and improves their attentiveness.

Physical Health Benefits

Outdoor play promotes healthy bodies.
 boy outdoor playing image by AGITA LEIMANE from Outdoor play is the perfect antidote to combat the epidemic of childhood obesity. Research shows that children who play outdoors are more fit and lean, according to the National Center for Physical Development and Outdoor Play. Children who spend time outside on a regular basis also have healthier immune systems. And playing outdoors is a good way to get adequate vitamin D.

Emotional Health Benefits

Outdoor play encourages emotional stability.
 kids playing outdoor image by Cherry-Merry from Playing outside enables children to relax, reduces tension and helps them solve problems. When children play outdoors, they learn to share and cooperate with one another and develop empathy. Kids who feel confident outdoors are likely to become competent, capable adults. Researchers have even found that outdoor play calms children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Educational Benefits

Children do a great deal of learning outdoors.
 twins play image by from The outdoors is a giant laboratory for learning that promotes creativity and problem solving. Researchers have found that children learn best when their body, mind and spirit are involved, and this occurs in outdoor play. Outside activities engage all five senses, which creates a powerful learning environment. The outdoors also exposes children to the opportunity to explore, experiment, form questions and create their own theories about how the world works.

Reduced Outdoor Play Time
Despite the many benefits of outdoor play, time spent outside has reduced drastically for many of today's children. Kids today spend much more time in front of electronic media than children a generation ago. The lack of outdoor play is tied to the childhood obesity epidemic, and experts predict that the situation is so severe that this generation's lifespan will be shorter.

Ideas for Increasing Outdoor Play Time
To get kids involved with the outdoors, encourage them to collect rocks, fly kites, climb trees, garden, camp, swim, go fishing, blow bubbles, rake leaves, watch birds and butterflies or play hopscotch.

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