So, how vital are outdoor activities for kids, you reckon? What role do they play in shaping a child’s future? Well, they are critical, if we want to bring up environmentally conscious, resilient and problem-solving generations.
“Play is a fundamental way that children learn about themselves and the world around them.” – Sir Ken Robinson (A well-known expert in education, creativity and innovation)
Studies on Outdoor activities for kids
Numerous studies by UNICEF over the past 30 years reiterate that the most crucial period of human development is from birth to 8 years.
These years are critical to the development of cognitive, emotional and social skills in a child. They are instrumental in nurturing sound mental and physical health of a child. Moreover, they lay a solid foundation that will stand by them in adulthood.
Outdoor activities for kids form a significant part in building these vital skills in the formative years. They can positively shape the kids’ personality while giving wings to their imagination and creativity.
Outdoor learning improves kids’ health. Also, it engages them meaningfully and helps them form a deep bond with nature. Furthermore, play teaches kids crucial life skills like resilience, team play and creativity. All this, while being the source of the greatest joy of childhood.
But hey, kids love to play! So, why worry, right? Wrong!
|More and more studies show that children between the ages of 2 and 10 are spending more time on devices, than in either indoor or outdoor free play.|
Excessive use of technology, unsafe environment, busy working parents and sheer lethargy are gradually taking little kids away from the world’s greatest playground – the outdoors!
|According to a study done by Melissa & Dough and Gallup, children spend an average of 18.6 hours of their free time in screen-based play per week. In contrast, they spend only an average of 10.6 hours in outdoor play!|
All these statistics reinforce the importance of outdoor activities for kids. As, not only are they fun, but they are also essential for the kids’ holistic growth and development.
They help kids develop crucial life skills that are not taught elsewhere. Skills like creativity, resilience, leadership, curiosity, resourcefulness, and attentiveness, etc.
Kids fundamentally love to play. For most, it is the best part of the school day.
It is with time and lack of encouragement that they slow down their engagement with the outdoors.
So, what are the benefits of outdoor activities for kids?
1. Fosters Learning
Outdoor activities are a fun way to enhance kids’ learning abilities. These provide an unmatched sensory experience for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.
There is so much to see, explore, absorb and learn from outdoors. As without a doubt, it is an incredibly enjoyable and multi-sensory place.
Kids learn vital life lessons and develop life-long skills through unstructured play. Exploring nature, acquiring new information, getting an elementary understanding of science being a few such skills.
Learning through play is, after all, the best form of learning.
2. Stimulates Positivity
The sheer joy of the outdoors enthuses children and boosts positivity.
Therefore, kids who love the outdoors tend to develop a positive attitude and have a calmer and more cheerful disposition.
Furthermore, outdoor activities are a fabulous way to channelize the child’s energy in a meaningful and constructive manner.
3. Boosts Creativity
Outdoor play is great for bringing out the kids’ creativity.
Being in an open, unconstrained and stimulating environment kindles the child’s imagination, bringing out a horde of artistic and inventive ideas.
4. Sharpens Motor Skills
Outdoor activities for kids are a fabulous way to hone both their gross and fine motor skills. These also improve hand and eye coordination and sense of balance etc.
Running, throwing, catching, holding, playing in the sand etc. helps them achieve more agility, coordination and balance.
Furthermore, physical activities help in building a stronger skeletal, muscular, immune, respiratory and cardiovascular system.
5. Builds Social Skills
Outdoors are a great place to develop social skills and promote camaraderie.
Outdoors being more open and friendly tend to draw kids out of their shells and be more social. It makes them more open to playing with others, taking turns, talking and making new friends.
All this helps in developing their social skills, with discreet adult supervision, of course.
6. Develops Personality
Outdoors brings out the independent and self-reliant in a child. He/she learns to deal with situations and handle themselves.
Also, it instils a sense of confidence in them which will equip them to tackle real-life situations in adulthood with ease.
Additionally, it helps them learn qualities like discipline, team spirit and sportsmanship.
7. Improves Attention Span
Playing and expending restless energy outdoors helps in improving the child’s mental faculties.
It helps in increasing their attention span, improving concentration level and focus. It further helps in enhancing the kids’ observation and reasoning skills.
8. Encourages Love for Nature
Kids spending a fair amount of time outdoors tend to form a lifelong love for nature.
As a result, they grow up to be more environmentally conscious citizens, invested in environmental issues like global warming, animal conservation etc.
9. Promotes Healthier Lifestyles
Kids regularly engaging in outdoor activities are more likely to grow up to be healthy adults with a balanced lifestyle.
Keeping them active and agile, outdoors helps them build strong bones and achieve optimal fitness levels by burning off the extra calories effectively.
Also, they get a healthy exposure to sunlight, allowing them to absorb vitamin D naturally.
Outdoor Classroom Day is an excellent initiative in making outdoor play an integral part of every kid’s life.
It is a global campaign that seeks to create a momentum to take children outdoors to play and learn. Be it at school or as a part of their everyday lives.
Launched in 2016, the campaign connected with over 3.5 million children across 100 schools in 2018. This year, the Outdoor Classroom Day falls on November 7, 2019.
Outdoors are, after all, all about giving kids complete freedom to jump and run around and make lots of noise! To just be, and discover themselves.