The Importance of Outdoor Play for Children and Why Inkpots makes it a Priority
Outdoor Play is one of the most important parts of our day here at Inkpots. Working with children of all ages, we constantly see first-hand the positive effects of outdoor play. It is essential for children to spend time playing outside, as it provides them with numerous benefits, from physical development to social skills and emotional well-being. It is recommended that children have at least one hour of outdoor play each day.
First and foremost, outdoor play is essential for children's physical development. When children play outside, they have the opportunity to run, jump, climb, and engage in other physical activities that promote the development of their muscles and bones. This, in turn, helps them grow strong and healthy.
In addition, outdoor play encourages children to be active, which can help prevent childhood obesity and related health issues. According to the World Health Organization, childhood obesity has increased tenfold over the past four decades, and in 2019, an estimated 38 million children under the age of five were overweight or obese. Encouraging outdoor play is one way to combat this trend and promote a healthy lifestyle from a young age.
But outdoor play isn't just good for children's physical health—it's also crucial for their social and emotional development. When children play outside, they have the opportunity to interact with their peers and develop important social skills, such as communication, cooperation, and problem-solving.
Outdoor play also fosters creativity and imagination, as children are free to explore their environment and create their own games and activities. This type of play allows children to express themselves and encourages them to take risks, developing their confidence and self-esteem.
Finally, outdoor play is crucial for children's emotional well-being. Being in nature has been shown to have a calming effect on children, reducing feelings of anxiety and stress. Outdoor play also promotes a sense of freedom and independence, as children are able to explore and make their own decisions.
In addition, outdoor play promotes a sense of connection to the natural world, fostering a love and appreciation for the environment. This connection can lead to a sense of responsibility towards nature and encourage children to become more environmentally conscious.
Making Outdoor Play a Priority
Given all of these benefits, it's clear that outdoor play should be a priority for nursery workers and parents alike. So, how can we make sure children have ample opportunities to play outside?
One approach is to create outdoor play areas that are safe and stimulating. This could involve providing equipment such as swings, slides, and climbing structures, as well as materials for building and explori
ng, such as sand, soil, water, planks, tyres and rocks.
Another approach is to incorporate outdoor play into the curriculum. This could involve taking children on nature walks, setting up scavenger hunts or other outdoor games, or simply allowing children to spend unstructured time outside.
Of course, there are challenges to making outdoor play a priority, particularly in Northern Ireland with our unpredictable weather. But with a little creativity, some resourcefulness and weather appropriate clothing, it's possible to find ways to incorporate outdoor play into children's daily routines.
Here at Inkpots we are committed to providing opportunities for children to play outside and explore their environment. By encouraging outdoor play, we are helping children to develop into healthy, confident, and well-rounded individuals. And with so many benefits to be gained, it's clear that making outdoor play a priority is an investment in children's future health and happiness.