Not all those who wander are lost – J. R. R. Tolkien
Of all the posts I wrote last year, I really enjoyed writing posts that were play based. Play is something I am really interested in and I love to brush up my knowledge on theories and the benefits of play. I thought I would stick with what I enjoy and continue the play theme into 2019 too. Today I am sharing 5 benefits of outdoor play as this is in keeping with my 2019 goals and the #150HoursOutside challenge! You can follow along with our outdoor adventures over on my instagram where you can find a tonne of cute photos of Emily rocking her puddle suit and brand new wellies!
It goes without saying that the best way to learn about nature and the world we live in is to go out and explore it. Even a short walk to the shop can offer opportunities for children to learn about their environment and the insects and animals that live in it. Earlier this week I popped out to put some rubbish in the wheelie bin and Emily followed me. She was crouched down picking up leaves and we saw a snail. I don’t think Emily has ever encountered a snail before so I spent a minute or two talking about it to her before we went back inside.
OPEN TO TRY NEW THINGS
Children are more willing to try new things when out in the open. The fresh air and open space allows for children to feel a kind of freedom that can not be felt indoors. When children feel safe and happy they are more likely to take risks and challenge themselves. Research has shown that being overcrowded can change a child’s behaviour so allowing time and space to be outside and be free is super beneficial.
Outdoor play allows children to use their bodies in a way they can not do indoors. A trip to the park offers a range of climbing opportunities, obstacles to navigate and space to run, skip, hop, jump etc. Our local park is quite open but with a secure fence so I feel happy to let Emily play and explore without worrying. Obviously as she is still small (13 months) I follow her and play with her but I am more than happy to let her go where she wants to go. There are huge rocks to climb, a swing set, slide and some balance beams. Emily loves playing on the swing and she will just giggle her little head off the whole time she’s playing. She has also started to become more interested in sticks and leaves and often picks them up to show me.
HEALTHY MIND AND BODY
If ever we are having a rough day, or a ‘hard mum day’ as I like to call them, my first thought is to just get outside and get some fresh air. Some days I just put Emily’s coat on over her pyjamas, bundle her into the pram and go for a walk. Being outside also has benefits to children’s eating and sleeping habits and regular exercise and outdoor play allows children to develop healthy habits. I know I feel better after some fresh air and Emily is often calmer too. Now she is up and walking she just loves to be outside. She will often throw her shoes and coat at me and go stand by the front door. I am trying much harder to follow her lead with this and take her out as much as possible when she tells me she wants to go. I can find myself going stir crazy if we are inside for too long and I wonder if Emily feels the same.
ENCOURAGE DEVELOPMENT OF THE IMAGINATION
The natural environment offers children a world of open ended resources. This allows children to play their own games and stimulate their imaginations. To an adult a stick is just a stick but to a child it could be a walking stick, a magic wand, a microphone, a telescope etc. Imaginative and creative play is so important as it allows children to develop emotionally as well as physically. I read somewhere that a plastic car is only every played with as a car but a cardboard box could be a castle/bus/boat/plane/secret hideaway. You get my drift!
There are many more benefits of outdoor play that I could list here but 5 seems enough for now. Are you taking part in the #150HoursOutside challenge? Where is your favourite outdoor place to visit?
Love Laura xx