Help young children embrace the outdoors through creative use of space, play and related experiences. Your inputs will accrue benefits in different areas of their development.
In the current dazzling digital era, young children indulge in watching entertainment programmes and playing games endlessly on family television, laptop or a smartphone. This is done at the cost of active, physical play and the much-needed social interactions. By nature, children like to run free and explore everything which attracts their attention. It is thus very important to offer them outdoor play experiences and social interactions with other children. These activities promote many of their developmental needs albeit with some parental supervision and or intervention.
Benefits of playing outdoors
- It provides young children with a healthy environment of fresh air and sunlight and, a place for free play. This combination primarily helps strengthen their heart, lungs, muscles and bones.
- It promotes physical development when children use their sensory and motor skills in active play, with or without equipment. Their body balance, the stability of movements and flexibility of limbs are also enhanced.
- It promotes other developments as well.
Cognitive skills are developed when children solve little problems during their play experiences.
Emotional skills are expressed by children for instance, when they feel happy and joyful playing with things they like or show sympathy or empathy towards each other.
Social and language skills are promoted through interpersonal interactions. Some of the social skills learnt are sharing and waiting for their turn. Whereas, new words increase their vocabulary.
Examples of outdoor play spaces for young children
- Your house patio, garden or the yard.
- Clean patches of grass around your building, away from vehicular traffic.
- Nearby gardens or playgrounds with or without play equipment.
Six ways to make outdoors inviting for children
- Have a fixed time for outdoor fun activity in your child’s daily routine.
- Once in a while, you may take your child for a short walk down the street. You will be surprised at your child’s positive reactions when he has so much to discover and talk about. Expand the experience by including a zoo for instance.
- Have small group picnics which include fun and games with other children.
- At fixed times and places, ask volunteers to conduct outdoor group sessions on storytelling and singing children’s songs, playing games and doing creative or physical activities liked by them.
- Keep some play material at a common place in your building premises accessible to the children at any time. Alternately, children can bring their own play material outdoors.
- Some play equipment can be installed in your compound, such as slides, monkey bars and so on at a common place in your building premises.
Tricycles and garden implements may be held safely on behalf of children.
- Have a children’s green patch where they can see their plants grow and thrive with their inputs.
- Let your child experience all the sensory experiences of all the seasons of the year in a safe environment.
>The first raindrops tickling his palms.
> The sun kissing his face.
> The cold giving him the shivers
> The wind tugging at his hair
> The flowering plants and trees laden with fruit
>The dry leaves crackling under his feet and the wet grass giving him the giggles
> The wet clay malleable in his hands
The last word
- Provide adult supervision to children at all times when playing outdoors.
- Ensure that play materials are age-appropriate, safe and hygienically maintained.
- Teach your child to be wary of strangers and to follow road safety rules.
- Make sure you have at hand a water bottle, some snacks and a first aid box.
- Promote respect for the flora and fauna around which your children play.
The article suggests ideas to encourage your child to embrace the outdoors on a regular basis. If you introduce creative play and experiences for him, it will contribute immensely to his overall development. As you go along, you may add your own innovative ideas liked by your child.