Why the Great Outdoors Is the Perfect Playground for your Child

by Joy Turner May 30, 2024

grandmother and granddaughter

In today's fast-paced, technology-driven world, it's easy for children to become glued to screens and disconnected from the natural world around them.

However, children tap into something truly special when immersed in the great outdoors. As parents, it's our privilege and responsibility to nurture a connection with nature, providing our little ones with the tools and encouragement they need to thrive outside and in life. Since June is Great Outdoors Month and June 8 is National Get Outdoors Day, now is the ideal time to encourage your children to engage in outside play and enjoy the many advantages of connecting with nature.

From sparking curiosity and fostering creativity to promoting physical health and emotional well-being, the benefits of outdoor exploration are innumerable.

Benefits of outdoor play

At Kiddie Academy, we believe that learning occurs in and out of the classroom. Whether it's building forts from fallen branches or observing wildlife in its natural habitat, outdoor play provides children with a hands-on learning environment that ignites their imagination and sets the stage for academic success in years to come.

From the earliest stages of childhood, outdoor play serves as a cornerstone of development, offering a holistic playground for the mind and body. Outdoor play helps reduce stress and sparks curiosity and creativity. Exposure to sunlight also brings health benefits, as it provides vitamin D, which can enhance mood and help regulate emotions. Outside activities also promote physical development, coordination and an overall sense of well being.

Here are some simple, engaging activities to get your child outside today:

For infants: Tummy time in the grass

  • Lay a blanket on a soft, grassy area in your yard or at a local park.
  • Place your infant on their tummy on the blanket, ensuring they are supervised at all times.
  • Encourage them to lift their head and explore their surroundings.

Tummy time promotes physical development by strengthening neck and upper body muscles, essential for milestones like crawling and walking. It also offers sensory stimulation as babies feel the textures of the grass and observe the natural world around them, fostering cognitive development and curiosity. This time spent outdoors provides a calming environment, supporting emotional well-being and bonding between parent and child.

For toddlers: Nature scavenger hunt

  • Create a list of simple items for your children to find in nature, such as a pinecone, a leaf, a flower or a rock.
  • Take a walk together in a nearby park or wooded area, allowing your children to explore and search for the items on their list.
  • Encourage observation, discussion and exploration.

This interactive game stimulates toddlers' development by encouraging observation, categorization and problem-solving as they search for objects. Toddlers will have the freedom to move, run and navigate terrain, enhancing their gross motor skills. Additionally, it cultivates a connection to nature, fostering a lasting appreciation for outdoor exploration.

For preschoolers: Nature art

  • Take your preschooler on a nature-inspired art adventure at a nearby park, nature reserve or in your own backyard.
  • Bring along paper, crayons and other art supplies.
  • Encourage exploration and creativity using natural materials like leaves, sticks, flowers and rocks.
  • Let your children’s creativity run wild as they use these items to create unique artworks inspired by nature.

Art is a fantastic way for children to explore their creativity and imagination–creating art within nature only enhances this experience. This fun activity also promotes cognitive development as your little ones observe and categorize natural objects, problem-solving skills as they figure out how to incorporate them into their artwork, and a sense of connection to nature and a feeling of accomplishment as they proudly display their creations.

For school-aged children: Outdoor science experiment

  • Turn your backyard into a laboratory with a cool science experiment. Choose a simple project that can be conducted outdoors, such as making a homemade volcano or studying plant growth.
  • Gather the materials needed for the experiment and set up a designated area in your yard where your children can safely conduct their investigation.
  • Guide your children through hands-on experimentation, observation, questioning and conclusion drawing.

Through hands-on experiences, children sharpen problem-solving abilities while immersing themselves in their surroundings. This experience fosters a profound sense of wonder and enthusiasm for the natural world, igniting a lifelong love for scientific inquiry and learning.

By actively encouraging outdoor exploration, you provide the perfect playground for your child while instilling a lifelong connection to the great outdoors–one filled with curiosity, resilience and a deep appreciation for our world.




Joy Turner

Author



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