When we think of summer, we imagine the warm sun, plants bursting with colorful flowers, flourishing trees, and chirping birds. One thing these have in common is all happen outside. Although our homes are comfortable and cozy, going out can be an even better environment to experience. The time we spend outdoors has a significant role in how we connect to our surroundings. Playing outdoors has a meaningful impact on a child’s life and how the child understands and interacts with his/her environment.
The primary benefit of outdoor time is simply the freedom from the distractions indoors, such as screen time. When children spend time outside, they tend to feel less overwhelmed because they are in an open space, giving them the freedom to have their physical room to move around and breathe. The feelings sparked in being outdoors make them happier and interact more comfortably with their peers.
Another critical aspect of outdoor play involves imagination and teamwork; this promotes positive relationships with each other. Situations like who gets to slide first or to take turns on the swings allow children to work out solutions among themselves. This, in return, will enable them to be emotionally stronger and teaches them the values of sharing and sorting out problems on their own.
The greatest thing about being outside is that all our senses are engaged. We see the beautiful grass with our eyes, hear the chirping of birds, smell flowers, and feel gritty sand.
At times we can even taste raindrops or snowflakes, depending on the season. Keeping our senses on high alert like this activates our body and energizes us. Our brain gets stimulated by possibilities and allows us to think in new and unique ways.
In addition, being outside has helped foster children’s sense of independence. Despite an adult being close by, children feel a sense of freedom when outside that they don’t experience anywhere else. They get the opportunity to explore and take minor risks without feeling like an adult is controlling their movements. Children often invent games with their friends and explore new things. The self-confidence that results from this will help them as they continue to learn and grow.
Outdoor time also teaches children about responsibility. Occasionally taking your child to a park or any other place imparts new, special memories. Once they grow up, the love for these memories will teach them to value their surroundings, ensuring that the next generation is fully aware of why we need to protect our natural environment. It essentially creates environmental advocates who respect and cherish the world around them.
Nature is abundant with surprises. There’s always something new to discover. This essential fact ensures that children can always find something new to explore. Experiences in the outdoor environment nurture a special kind of curiosity in children. They can wonder about different things: how does a flower bloom, how do some bugs fly, where do colors come from in nature? The possibilities are limitless. This method of thinking makes them want to learn more and thus dig into the topic and try to understand it better. In essence, they are budding scientists who are curious and excited about the world around them.
Added benefit of being outside is that it provides an opportunity to practice basic skills, especially for young children. Small things such as maintaining your balance on ledges, jumping in puddles, or doing the monkey bars help children master these skills. These experiences are not only interactive, but they are also fun!
In sum, outdoor playtime cultivates a beautiful imagination. Children explore different textures, build things with wet sand, watch and imitate small insects, and allow children to explore different ways to express their thoughts. In addition, providing ample outdoor time will ensure the next generation will grow up with many beautiful ideas to implement and improve their quality of life. Spending time with technology is great, but the simplicity and richness of being outdoors is a fundamental part of being a child and using the imagination. So, get outside with your little ones and see for yourself all nature has to offer at no cost to you.