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 Top 10 Reasons for Year-Round Outdoor Play

Professionals in the Early Learning sector understand the importance of daily outdoor play. In many areas of the world, outdoor play can cause resistance with families who are not accustomed to cold/hot/wet weather and prefer that their children remain indoors.

This blog is dedicated to those of you who need a bit of support to help families understand why we take children outdoors daily (except in extreme weather.)Year Round Outdoor Play

10. Outdoor play can reduce a child’s risk of becoming nearsighted.

Being in bright daylight and having the opportunity to focus on things that are in the distance may prevent nearsightedness!

9. Outdoor play exposes children to sunlight and vitamin D.

Being exposed to regular sunlight, even on a cloudy day, helps children maintain healthy sleep patterns. Vitamin D aids in bone growth, muscle function and may prevent Multiple Sclerosis.

8. Outdoor play expands on children’s knowledge of the natural world in ways that staying indoors does not.

Most of us are kinesthetic learners, and we can grasp concepts better when we experience them first hand. Playing outside allows children the opportunity to explore and understand a vast array of scientific and social ideas. Children’s vocabulary grows with being outdoors. The words we use to describe the weather can be experienced and understood. Physical processes such as freezing, melting, bleaching, absorption, growth or decay are experienced outdoors.

7. Outdoor play invites more strenuous activity.

The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that children reach at least 60 minutes of intense physical activity each day by the time they are 5 years old. Being outdoors naturally encourages running, leaping, jumping, skipping or climbing.

6. Outdoor play allows children the opportunity to decompress and exposes the brain to Serotonin rather the Cortisol.

Stress floods the human brain with the hormone Cortisol. When a young child’s brain is flooded with Cortisol for long periods, it negatively impacts the brain’s ability to develop.

Playing outdoors exposes you to Vitamin D, and that vitamin helps to release Seratonin in the body. Being outdoors can drastically improve mood and allow children to focus better when learning.

5. Outdoor play can build social skills.

Children are more apt to gather together to create or imagine in a broader outdoor environment. While it is true that children learn social skills in the classroom, the outdoors offers different opportunities for children to learn these critical skills.

4. Outdoor play allows children to understand and embrace the beauty of our environment.

When children are exposed to positive outdoor experiences, they may be likely to have a greater appreciation of nature, ecology or science. Those with a positive perspective on outdoor life can be more likely to explore the gifts nature offers and may be interested in preserving the environment and our planet.

3. Outdoor play allows children to fall asleep more easily.

Studies suggest that children fall asleep quickly and are more likely to stay asleep when they have regular outdoor playtime. These studies indicate that children do not necessarily sleep longer, but they experience a better sleep experience.

2. Outdoor play helps children learn how to take risks and become more confident.

When children are permitted to indulge in risky play, they learn about safely taking risks and becoming very aware of their surroundings and what their bodies are doing. Jumping off a 15 cm high stump may not appear to be a big deal; however, a young child may see a risk and possibly, and they may have some fear when assessing if they will jump.

In the great outdoors, children can run, jump, climb and leap, which they cannot safely do inside the classroom.

And the number one reason for outdoor play……..

1. Outdoor play minimizes behaviour problems.

Many challenging behaviours can be traced back to boredom or the need to use built-up physical energy. Early in the blog, we talked about vigorous play, and it’s benefits. When children have an appropriate outlet for their energy and their silliness, they can concentrate and follow the “inside” rules of walking feet and quiet voices.

Below are some links that you can share with your families:

Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines:

Canadian Paediatric Society:

Canadian Child Care Federation Outdoor Play Resource Sheet:

Academic Research Paper on Outdoor Play:

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