20 Benefits of Outdoor Play for Little Ones
Outdoor play offers an enormous range of benefits to children, particularly during their early years. It’s therefore important that little ones, in particular, are given ample opportunity to play, learn and explore the many activities that only the outdoors allows — under adult supervision, of course. Outside, they’ll learn new skills and knowledge and will benefit both physically and mentally in ways that perhaps the indoors could never fully allow. So, if you are the parent or guardian of a child in their earliest years, take a look at 20 of the key benefits of outdoor play for little ones.
1. Outdoor Play is Great Fun!
We should not overlook the complete obvious — playing outdoors is generally great fun! That’s not a trivial thing and indeed it’s important for children’s wellbeing. After all, fun and games are all an essential part of any happy childhood. There is also no better way for little ones to learn than through play, so giving them the opportunity to play outdoors represents a much wider opportunity than anything they can do inside.
2. A Completely Different Set of Activities & Challenges
Outdoor play offers a largely different set of games, activities, challenges and exploration opportunities compared to those available indoors. After all, it literally opens up a bigger world for children to experience. With the myriad of different environments available outdoors, whether man-made or natural, there’s simply more to do. So, the potential for a near infinite range of different activities and games is possible outdoors — each of which can teach children something new.
3. A Greater Sense of Adventure
As well as being a fun place to be, the outdoors will give children a sense of adventure that is harder to replicate indoors. And adventure is all a healthy part of childhood, when you think about it.
4. An Escape from Electronic Screens
Outdoor play is also a very healthy release from spending time in front of electronic screens like TVs, tablets, games and maybe even mobiles if children have them. Studies and a good dose of common sense show that too much screen time is not good for children and getting them outdoors is a great way to go back to basics and enjoy more natural, active play.
5. New Knowledge
Along with this bigger world comes greater knowledge, pure and simple. Children will get to learn so many new things, about both themselves and the world, when taking part in the myriad of possible activities outdoors. Whether it’s new knowledge about nature, the elements, materials, places or something else, there is so much knowledge out there to feed their young minds.
6. Outdoor Play Supports the EYFS Curriculum
The varied nature of outdoor play supports the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum in many different ways. This includes support for ‘prime’ and key’ areas including Physical Development, Communication & Language Development, Understanding the World, Personal, Social & Emotional Development and even Mathematics.
7. Outdoor Play Helps Mental Health
Spending time outdoors and fresh air, particularly when surrounded by nature, is known to help the mental health and wellbeing of both children and adults. Study after study show this to be the case.
8. Feeding the Senses
All the senses are stimulated enormously when children take part in outdoor activities, play and exploration. The outside world is a rich stimulant of all the senses including sight, hearing, smell, touch and, with supervision and care, even taste. Proprioception (balance/movement) and vestibular sensing via body position are also particularly stimulated by outdoor play. Learn more about the importance of sensory perception here.
9. Deeper Friendships
Play-based outdoor activities are so different from those undertaken indoors and they also allow for different dynamics amongst children. Many are group-based or at the very least pair-based activities that are quite immersive. The combination of factors around outdoor play can lead to a wider circle of friends and deeper friendships. That can only be a good thing.
10. New Skills
The wider range of immersive activities available outdoors also introduces children to completely new skills. Just a few examples include teamwork, role-play, strategy and leadership.
11. Improved Communication Skills
Communication skills are also nurtured during outdoor play. Children playing outdoors, together, will need to learn to communicate clearly with each other as they go about joint activities and games. They’ll soon learn what communication strategies work, and which don’t.
12. Improved Strength, Fitness & Physical Development
Children playing outdoors are far more likely to be active and physical, expending energy, moving, running, jumping, climbing and more. All of that physical activity will help build strength, stamina and improve general fitness levels. In turn, this active play can lead to a more healthy BMI and help to reduce the likelihood of childhood obesity.
13. Improved Motor Skills, Balance & Coordination
Motor skills (both gross and fine), balance and coordination skills are also naturally going to improve with all this more physical, outdoor activity. That’s incredibly important in their early years as they learn to control their bodies and movement so they’re able to stay safe from harm as they become more physically able.
14. Better Spacial Awareness
Spacial awareness is another sense that benefits through regular outdoor activity. With the greater freedom that the outdoors affords, young children will soon hone this essential skill that will help to keep both themselves and their peers out of harm’s way.
15. Expanded Risk Assessment Abilities
Risk assessment is something that children will have to do more outdoors than inside. The good news, though, is that it’ll be quite natural and largely instinctive for them to assess risk, perhaps without even being conscious that they are doing so. This is yet another skill that’ll help to keep children more safe.
16. Creative Inspiration
With all the opportunities that the outdoor environment offers children, it’s no wonder that it greatly stimulates their creativity. Whether it’s building, inventing, making or simply observing, the outdoor world really stimulates children’s minds to create.
17. Improved Self-Esteem
With new skills and abilities, children and their peers may begin to each other in a new, improved light. New abilities and deeper friendships will, in turn, boost children’s self-esteem, in a healthy, natural way.
18. Improved Self-Confidence
Better self-esteem will also make children more confident in themselves, as people, as well as in their abilities. This is a good thing and a way to help them thrive in the world and within their peer group and community.
19. Enhanced Preparedness for School
All these benefits help children to develop mentally, physically and socially and, in so doing, they will be better prepared when the time comes for them to move from pre-school to school.
20. Enhanced Preparedness for Life
By setting children up with the mental and physical tools that will help them to thrive, they will also be more prepared and equipped for life in general as they progress from infant to child and ultimately into adulthood.
Outdoor Play at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston
Leaps & Bounds nursery/pre-school has wonderful outdoor facilities where the children can play, explore and learn in a safe environment. It’s a stimulating and immensely enjoyable area where children can let their imaginations free to gain all the benefits that the outdoors has to offer. We also have our own Forest School in Edgbaston/Birmingham to take this a step further, out into nature. Children simply love it and learn so much!
Outstanding Childcare in Edgbaston, Birmingham
Leaps & Bounds is a childcare nursery & pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham, close to Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick
If you’d like to explore our wonderful nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham or are looking for exceptionally good childcare near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick, please get in contact with us. We can show you and your child around, answer any queries you might have and give you any information you need. Please choose a button below:
While outdoor play is fun and offers so many benefits for children, by its very nature it can be potentially more hazardous. Suitable adult supervision and safety measures should therefore always be in place for the safety and wellbeing of children playing outdoors.