Most parents realize that it’s healthy for their children to play outdoors, but often, parents only consider the physical health benefits. It’s true that outdoor play burns calories (and energy), helping ensure your child stays fit and maintains a healthy weight. But the benefits of outdoor play go far beyond the physical. Did you know that there your child also experiences mental benefits from playing outside? Here are seven positive effects that outdoor play has on children.
1. Improved Behavior
There’s the report that as little as 15 minutes a day of recess improves children’s classroom behavior. Romina Barros, M.D. states that children’s brains are better able to absorb information after they enjoy the rest of free play. Whether you need your child to focus on homework or need her to behave in front of company, an outdoor break could be the difference between failure and success.
2. Increased Creativity
Creative play outdoors encourages children to think creatively. Children invent new games, which teaches communication skills as they explain rules. When games are scored, children also learn number skills. Children may be creating and enjoying their own mind training games without even knowing it!
3. Improved Decision-making
If your child is indecisive, he may benefit from some time outside. The freedom of outdoor play and safety in playground lets children choose where and how to play. Children can develop autonomy and even organizational skills when they have the opportunity to play outside. These skills transfer well to the home and to the classroom.
4. Better Social Interaction
When children play creatively, they develop social skills. Both “role play” enjoyed by younger children and “rules play” envisioned by older children help children learn to interact with one another. Studies report that when children are permitted free play outdoors, they are better able to get along with others.
5. Mental Health Benefits
Studies have shown that mental functioning improves with time spent outdoors. Research shows that those who spend less time outdoors may be more likely to experience depression.
6. Learning Actively
Some skills are difficult to teach in the classroom but much easier to learn on the playground. Active play can help children learn to face and overcome challenges. Using outdoor kid’s play equipment also teaches spatial skills when children learn not just the ranges of their own bodies, but also how three-dimensional items move in space. Often, the best learning toys can be found outdoors.
7. Biological Benefits
Playing outside does help your child’s body, but the body-mind benefits go much deeper. When children have recess, their memory and focus improves, and they even gain more connections in their brain. It stands to reason that all forms of outdoor play boasts similar benefits, even when children play outside of recess.
It’s clear that outdoor activities provide many benefits beyond helping your child stay strong and physically healthy. All parents should treat outdoor play as an important part of their child’s daily routine.