Forget the Playroom...Take Them Outside!
Ok, so maybe you don’t need to ditch your child’s playroom all together (our family has one too), but there are so many reasons you should consider more outdoor play time with your child, and here are a few:
Outdoor Play Provides Young Children with a Sense of Wonder
There are countless things to see and explore outside. The longer we’ve been outside the more likely my kids are to turn over a rock and see an insect, to see an ant carrying a leaf larger than itself, or to see a squirrel jump from tree to tree. All of these experiences lead to questions. Some questions that have come up in my family are if there will be a “rollie pollie” under every rock, what other things ants can carry, and how a squirrel moves so fast? Being filled with questions and wonder about the way our world works is what leads our children to become lifelong learners.
Children Form a Connection with Nature While Outdoors
There are worldwide conferences on what we can do to protect the earth we live in. Regardless of our beliefs, most of us can agree that humans have a responsibility towards our planet. As our children grow up, we can’t expect them to have appreciation and protect something that they don’t know much about. If children spend all of their time indoors, how could they possibly form a connection with the earth? By creating fond memories of joy and laughter outdoors, children will begin to feel connected to nature. My 3-year-old asked to celebrate her birthday by “eating cake in nature”. It’s safe to say she’s starting to feel a connection.
Health Benefits for the Whole Family
When we go outside my oldest child spends all of her time running, jumping, skipping, dancing, climbing, rolling, tumbling and engaging in other large muscle movements. My youngest will stand and watch the wind blow the leaves, crawl towards interesting things, such as a bird, and move her arms up and down in excitement. These movements help to keep children physically active, healthy, and strong. Too much time sitting indoors limits these types of active movements and exploration. From my experiences with my family, the children do not spend much time sitting once they’reoutside!
What activities do you and your children enjoy while playing and learning outdoors?
Toni Denese Sturdivant, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Texas A&M University-Commerce. Dr. Sturdivant’s research focuses on racial identity development, play, and young children. [email protected]