Mother Nature Misses Her Kids: Benefits to Playing Outdoors
While technology has created tremendous benefits to society in general, it has also changed the way kids play today. It seems like children are exercising their fingers more than any other part of their bodies with accessibility to video games, computers, and television remote controls.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have documented a correlation between children’s body fat and how much television they watch.
In order to reverse the obesity trend, the solution is real simple. Children need to get out and play – at least in the backyard.
According to research, children are smarter, more cooperative, happier and healthier when they have varied opportunities for free, unstructured outdoor play.*
Here are 7 benefits of playing outdoors:
1. Creative, imaginative play. A simple example: It’s much more thrilling for a child to pretend to be an airline pilot under the big blue sky than it is to be inside.
2. Emotional coping and stress reduction. We like to call outdoor play an instant “re-set button.”
3. Improved physical health and motor coordination. Kids that run around nature, are working to develop their entire body. Hopping from boulder to boulder, for example, is true test of balance!
4. Cognitive, social and sensory development. Nature’s elements and specially designed playground equipment offer just the right stimulation for children of all disabilities.
5. Concentration, self-control and self-discipline. The outdoors is full of learning experiences that can be achieved from individual, parallel and group play.
6. Creative problem-solving skills. Kids can be exposed to situations that teach them about basic life skills and challenges, as well as lessons to manage obstacles.
7. Appreciation for the environment. With guidance, children can discover nature and the world around them. Through engagement, they will also learn to respect all things around them.
What are some ways you’re engaging kids to play outside?
* Children and Nature 2008: A report on the movement to reconnect children to the Natural World.
Image source: http://www.3dartspace.com/