Why Outdoor Play is Important for Young Children
The average child spends much more time looking at a screen than they spend outside in nature and we believe that this should be reversed. Playing outside is one of the most beneficial — and not to mention, simple — activities for parents to encourage their young children to do. Below, we’re breaking down why outside play is so important plus some tips for making it happen.
Playing Outside Benefits Mental Health
Getting fresh air is not only good for the mental health of your young child, but it’s beneficial for you too. The increased oxygen that you gain from being outside benefits your entire body. As a parent, you should understand the importance of being at your best in order to more effectively care for your children. In addition to the fresh air benefitting you, it is also great for your children. Outside play provides a great opportunity for kids to release their pent up energy. And releasing energy allows them to better regulate their emotions leading to a more balanced, happy home environment.
Outside Play Improves Overall Well-Being
Most people are aware that stress is terrible for our overall health. Unfortunately, we live in a generally stressful society. It is important to be aware of the fact that the burden of this stress can affect our children. Playing outside can help our children, and ourselves, reduce stress which will directly benefit both of us physically. When children spend most of their time indoors, staring at screens, they are more likely to experience irritability. By releasing energy and connecting with nature, outside play allows our children to release stress and occupy their time without a screen.
Nature Has Positive Effects on the Body
Outside time benefits children and adults for a number of reasons. Being out in nature can reduce stress, improve immune function, and even lower blood pressure. It’s hard to not feel at ease when relaxing in a beautiful park or walking through a nature trail. But, as technology advances, computer and phone screens continue to become a big part of our lives. It’s important to lead by example and show our children the importance of getting out into nature by doing it ourselves.
Studies have found that children who spend more time staring at screens have a harder time regulating their emotions. We all know that screen time isn’t great for our kids but it’s important to remember that excessive screen time can actually be harmful to our children’s development.
Outdoor Activities to Try With Your Child
It can be easy to feel like you’re running out of ideas when it comes to keeping your young child busy outside — especially during the summer when they would typically be spending long days at school. There are plenty of fun activities to try outside with your child, you may just need some fresh ideas.
Go for a bike ride or walk
If you have bikes to ride, this is a great way to get outside with your child and even get some exercise that will benefit both of you. Find a nice, safe residential area to ride your bikes such as your favorite park or the beach. If you don’t have bikes to ride, you can keep it simple and just go for a nice walk around your neighborhood.
Play with water
Kids love to play with water. It’s not only a fun activity but it is also refreshing and will help them stay cool during the hotter summer months. You can try setting up a kids pool or splash pad in your backyard. If you have a public pool nearby to play in, this is also a great option. Just be sure to follow safety recommendations and always supervise your child while near a swimming pool.
Head to the park
Local parks are a great way to get outside with your children because they offer tons of different activities. There are swings, the jungle gym, and even basketball courts so you’re sure to find an activity that your kid will enjoy. They may even get to play with other kids, making some new friends in the process!
Do some crafts
Getting crafty outside is a win-win for parents because it doesn’t just offer a fun activity for your child but it prevents them from making a mess inside. Get some non-toxic finger paints and a big poster board or canvas for them to paint on. You can also draw on the driveway with some sidewalk chalk.
Safety Tips for Outside Play
As with any activity, playing outside comes with some risks. Regardless of the outdoor activities that you choose for your child, you should always pay attention, supervise as necessary, and take the necessary steps to keep them safe. Here are a few tips to help keep your young child safe when playing outside.
- Use proper sun protection by having your child wear appropriate clothing and a non-toxic sunscreen when playing outside for long stretches. Try using a sun shade or umbrella when playing in the backyard or at the beach to avoid a sunburn.
- Teach kids about “stranger danger” and be sure to communicate a plan with them, if they are approached by an unfamiliar adult.
- Be aware of traffic risks and never let your child play in or near the street. If your yard is close to the road, consider getting it fenced off and always supervise your child.
- Always have your child wear a helmet when riding a bike.
- Be mindful of stinging insects and poisonous plants that may exist in your area. Apply a natural insect repellent if you live in an area with a large mosquito population. Show kids what ant piles look like and teach them to be careful when playing near them.
- Make sure to always supervise children when playing on the playground. Teach children to watch out for other kids and to never jump from high playground structures.
At the end of the day, one of the best things you can do for your child is simply take them outside. It doesn’t have to be a strenuous task to take your kid outside to have some fun. All you have to do is follow some simple safety tips and enjoy the fresh air.
The Pop N’ Go Playpen is the perfect outdoor accessory, with a spacious, safe design, and an included UV sun cover.