Why Outdoor Playtime Is Essential For Children’S Physical And Mental Development

Many kids love playing outdoors, and it turns out that while doing activities like playing tag or shooting hoops, they are also helping their mental and physical development. The benefits are significant and can play an essential part in the rest of their lives. Let’s discuss some reasons outdoor playtime is critical for children.

Helps Motor Skills

Motor skills help us effectively do all the tasks we regularly do. Participating in outdoor activities like riding bikes, playing baseball, or rollerblading can enhance those motor skills and help with areas like movement, coordination, and strength as kids age.

Encourages Imagination

Kids often love coming up with different stories and scenarios during imaginative play. For example, while playing outdoors, they may pretend to look for buried treasure or create boutiques from grass or flowers in the yard. Healthily using your imagination can prove beneficial while growing up, including building self-confidence, which is great for kids to strengthen sooner than later.

Promotes a Love of Getting Outdoors

It is no secret that getting outdoors has many benefits for adults and children. However, no one wants to do things that do not feel enjoyable, especially for children.

When kids have fun during outdoor playtime, it can promote a love of spending time outside well into adulthood, where they choose to do certain activities (like joining adult leagues) rather than feeling like it is something they have to do or feeling the need to sit in front of a screen for entertainment. Children aware of all the fun they could have outside may be more tempted to want to spend their free time in the fresh air, especially when their friends value outside play too.

Encourages Social Interaction

Kids who play outdoors often use it as a chance to hang out with other children. They might play games like hide and seek, tag, or capture the flag. These games can help them learn the ins and outs of excellent social interactions, including effective communication, conflict resolution skills, and accepting others.

Undoubtedly, having positive social interactions as kids can benefit them as adults in many ways. It can assist with learning how to interact with all the different personality types they will come in contact with in areas from romantic relationships to coworkers, reducing social isolation, anxiety, or fear.

Boosts Independent Happiness

As important as having a great social network, it is also essential to have happiness with oneself. Outdoor playtime is one way to teach kids that it is okay to learn how to keep themselves occupied and find enjoyment in activities that make them happy. Some outdoor activities they can do with friends or alone (but still with adult supervision) include drawing with sidewalk chalk, playing basketball, or blowing bubbles.  

Learning to be comfortable doing activities they enjoy by themselves, whether or not their friends are busy, can be something they carry with them to promote independence. It can be important as an adult, especially as lives get even more active as responsibilities, ranging from jobs to having a family, can take over, and friends may not be able to see each other as often as they once did.

Elevates a Love of Exercise

Exercise is crucial at any age. When kids do outdoor activities like riding bikes, they learn that exercise can be fun when it involves doing things they love to do. This activity can be fantastic for their physical well-being at every age and can assist them with being at a healthy weight. In addition, children are more likely to exercise more often when becoming adults.

If your kids are hesitant to get outdoors to exercise, consider joining them. They may be more receptive to the idea if they spend extra time with a sibling or one or both parents who enjoy outdoor activities. In addition, the sunshine promotes the production of vitamin D. However, ensure using a suitable sunscreen to prevent sunburn or harmful UV rays.

Produces a Healthy Mental Health Outlet

There are, unfortunately, many unhealthy ways people cope with everyday life. However, there are also an incredible number of healthy coping mechanisms. When kids find outdoor activities they love, it can provide them with options that can help them with their mental health and stress levels. In addition, this coping mechanism is terrific for them at their current age and as they get older.

Stimulates Healthy Sleep

Exercise can have a positive effect on children’s sleep. Not only could it help them fall asleep faster, but it can also assist with enhancing the quality of their sleep. Also, the effects of exercise on sleep can help in other areas of their life, such as focusing and being in a better mood, both of which can boost additional areas like education and social interactions.

Ensure they have a routine that can aid and not hinder their sleep, such as going to bed at the same time every night. Avoid allowing your children screen time about an hour or two before their scheduled bedtime, and ensure they eat dinner or snacks hours before to reduce excess energy or distraction. Alternatively, allow children to listen to calming music or nature sounds to help promote sleep.

Boosts Curiosity

There are so many outdoor activities that can help magnify curiosity. For example, doing a nature scavenger hunt can be fun for kids to get outside while learning more about the environment. Check local state park trails, as they may participate in scavenger hunts or sign up for local newsletters in your city to identify kid-friendly activities. Developing this curiosity can have many additional benefits, including increasing the chances of academic achievement and promoting healthy activities.

It is easier than ever for kids to sit indoors on their phones, on the computer, or in front of the television. However, there is a fantastic big world with many activities to enhance physical and mental development. Encouraging this healthy outdoor playtime can significantly benefit them while they are young up through adulthood and into their golden years. So, find a fun activity your child will enjoy and go outside.

Sandra Chiu works as Director at LadyBug & Friends Daycare and Preschool.