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6 Reasons Why Outdoor Play is So Important

Immy is learning to ride a bike and it is a fabulous incentive for us to spend more time outdoors. Fortunately, the weather here has cooled a little, though we do still need to head out first thing in the morning or in the late afternoon/early evening. Although I love summer, the heat this year was relentless and both Immy and I have missed the freedom of large portions of time outdoors throughout the day. Thank goodness for the arrival of autumn!

Outdoor play is so important to a child’s development. It provides;

1. Time and space for physical activity which is important to both personal health and the development of both fine motor (small muscle) and gross motor (large muscle) skills.

2. Rich engagement of the five senses – seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting. I have posted before about the importance of sensory stimulation to development and outdoor environments are wonderful for multi-sensory stimulation.

3. Whenever I have a cold or flu or feel stressed and overtired, fresh air and sunshine provide a wonderful, low cost antidote. Studies suggest that time to play outdoors is important to the mental health of children, you can read more here.

4. Space for unstructured, imaginative play – you can see the reasons why imaginative play is important in this previous post.

5. A platform for our children to better appreciate the importance of the natural environment and a basis for learning more about caring for the world we live in.

6. An excellent way to spend time together as a family, which is important to emotional health and development.

April is Get Outdoors Month at Childhood 101. We would encourage you to make time to play outdoors everyday for the month of April. Will you join us?

Outdoor playtime everyday for the month of April, regardless of the weather.

 

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Comments

  1. A great idea, we are totally in :) Will is going to love it :)

  2. I spend as much time as possible outside myself, so it’s natural that the kids follow. There is a lesson in that!!!

    I’m in. Love your work, Christie. x

  3. FYI: Hon, your code didn’t work for the button, but I made it work using this simpler code:

    I’m such a geek.

    x

  4. We are in too!

    Thanks!
    Jamie @ hands on : as we grow

  5. I had troubles getting the button to work too – here’s what I modified it to be:

  6. TOTALLY in!! Thanks for this. Button going on blog :-)

  7. Yay, yay, yay – it’s also Get Outside month here in the U.S. You know we love to get outdoors, so we’ll be sure to support the effort. Here’s a link to some ideas for getting outdoors in your own backyard that readers may find helpful: http://goexplorenature.blogspot.com/2010/08/50-ways-to-explore-nature-in-your-own.html. Have fun!

  8. What’s faaaaab idea!!
    Yep.. I’m in!!
    My little mans bday is in April so this might jmhave to be an annual ritual for us as he’s the typical bugs and dirt type of boy..
    Will pop your button up on my blog when I get to my puter..

  9. I’m looking forward to this. It sounds stupid but I am at a loss for ideas to do with my daughter outside. My daughter is an only child so she rarely goes out to play on her own. We live in the city so the roads aren’t suitable for riding on. We have to drive to bike paths or the pool or something, so it doesn’t happen as often as it should. And now that she is in prep we don’t even walk as much. We’re looking forward to the ideas this month.

  10. Am SOOOOOO in!!! This is a brilliant idea – I bought my eldest a scooter yesterday as I have found we have been getting out on the bikes less lately (now that I have a pram in the boot now) – and we have literally spent all weekend scotting to the park and back! Such fun!!
    xxxCate

  11. Great idea – I’m in!!! I’m one of those horrible mothers that kicks her children outside to play and won’t let them watch tv or play on the computer for days in a row!!! See, told you I was horrible ;) Would love some new ideas.

    (ps. I didn’t have any luck with the button – came up as something supposed to be there, but no image :/ but html and I have a hate-hate relationship)

  12. We are totally in! We spend alot of time outside and visit the park most days (to get our furry son out too)love the no matter the weather rule…some puddle jumping to be done.
    I have t.v guilt even though it is just small amounts for the kids daily and so thrilled that the want for it is slowly dying down after hitting it’s peak around 2.5/3 ….I’m building up hubby to support a No T.V tuesday (especially now Rafters is finished :)) thinking it is a start.

  13. Definitely in – I also replied on the FB page. Already I have enjoyed spending time with my 14 week old baby boy in the great outdoors, and he is loving it too!

    BTW – I went to the EYES conference last year where I was priveleged to listen to Dr Libby Lee Hammond’s excellent presentation on the importance of outdoor education in the Early Years. She presented some really interesting research about the importance and value of outdoor play.
    You can see her power point on the EYES website. It has some wonderful pictures of “Outdoor Kindergartens” which are popular in Scandinavia and a nursery school in the UK where there is a wonderful outdoor learning environment.
    THe most interesting thing for me as an educator was one of the photos from the UK school showing a rack of raincoats and gumboots. Every child has their own wet weather gear – so that weather does not stop their outdoor time. This was a kind of AHA moment for me and it will be something I will encourage in my EC classes when I go back to work :).

    This is the link – although I am not sure it will work.
    http://eyes.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Wisdom-From-the-North-by-Libby-Lee-Hammond-EYES-2010-SC.pdf

    • Hi Jodie

      Thanks for posting this pdf. It’s always really interesting to see how the world views the UK. I’m based in Scotland and although with a general election looming and budget cuts hitting hard, I’m hopeful that the outdoor play will remain high on the political and education agendas. However little-by-little change is happening. We now have nature kindergartens as a medium term priority and pre-schools that are not getting children outside are publicly criticised for this in their inspection reports and are expected to change.

      But we have a long way to go. If you look at the “Watch this space” post on my blog and look at the photo – this is the idea of a suitable outdoor play space. Our administrators have not caught up with the times. Australia is held in high esteem over here for its high education standards and progress.

  14. With Dadda on holidays for most of April I think we will be in on this. Not only do we have some outdoor activities kind of planned, we just bought a heap of seeds which we need to get out and get into the garden :)

  15. Ahhh, wonderful! Count us in. What a fabulous month for it! Looking forward to it xooxo

  16. What a great idea. My boys spend time playing outdoors everyday (usually a stop at the local parks play area on the way to or from school) or bike riding on the weekend – but I would love some new ideas and inspiration.

  17. Yes, we are in! Thanks for the inspiration!

  18. We’re in! We love to explore the great outdoors! Thank you for the extra boost of encouragement to get outdoors this month!

  19. Definitely in! We’re taking full advantage of the lovely spring weather we’re having here!

  20. I’m in! I just linked back with 20 ideas to get outdoors with your kids! Visit the post at http://mymontessorimoments.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/20-ways-to-get-outdoors-with-your-kids/

    Such a great idea! We’re loving it!

  21. This sounds great! Count us in. It’s Autumn down here but I’m sure we can take advantage of the last warm days before Winter.

  22. We are in! Tomorrow we’ll add your button to our ‘developing literacy skills’ (outside) post.
    Donna :) :)

  23. Yes we are in! We love outdoor play!

  24. I have added the button and link to an ‘old’ post, but I think it’s a great activity for your readers- taking books outdoors. I will re-publish this post later today when more people are online.
    http://www.mylittlebookcase.com.au/activities/activity-a-picnic-with-the-very-hungry-caterpillar/

    I hope it helps with the challenge. I’m enjoying many of the ideas that have come from it so far.

  25. We are in! Well we are not actually in. . .except for to use the rest room and sleep. Gotta go lather on the sunscreen and gather up some books, I think today we will lay in the shady grass and read a few stories.

  26. Great idea, we’re in!

  27. We’re in! We’ve actually been doing it all month, but I’ve only got around to linking up in this weeks posts. Will be doing a round up of all our outdoor stuff shortly as well.

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