Get out there

Here are five ways outdoor play supports healthy child development

It’s no surprise that time outdoors is important for a healthy lifestyle for children, but did you know that it also contributes to their development? While it’s important to follow public health recommendations during the pandemic, there are still plenty of safe ways for kids to enjoy the outdoors.  

The Genius of Play, a non-profit initiative that works to educate parents and caregivers about the benefits of play and to inspire families to play more, shares five reasons we should be making outdoor play a priority: 

  1. Research has shown that physically active kids tend to be leaner and healthier, while an inactive childhood can lead to a sedentary (and likely unhealthy) lifestyle in adulthood. Physical play builds motor skills that can contribute to success in school and beyond. 
  2. Outdoor play gives children the opportunity to step outside their comfort zones and try new things. While taking risks won’t always lead to success on the first try, moments like a first bike ride without training wheels are helpful for building the confidence and resilience needed to pursue a future career or handle life’s many challenges.
  3. Childhood games played outdoors can build social skills and teach kids to follow directions. Games as simple as tag or hide-and-seek build communication, teamwork and other important social skills.
  4. Being outside can encourage kids to tap into their creativity and come up with solutions to challenges. For example, a leisurely beach activity such as learning how to build a sandcastle can accomplish this in a fun way.
  5. Much of outdoor play involves physical activity, thrilling moments and a sense of freedom, all of which can boost endorphins, lower stress levels, and reduce anxiety and depression. Simply touching dirt when creating mud pies or digging for worms can be beneficial. So, don’t be afraid to let your kids get a bit dirty out there.