The benefits of playing outside for children have been well documented. With the explosion in mobile phone use and the age demographic getting younger and younger, it has never been more important for children to take some ‘time out’ . For younger children taking time away from the smart screen, the benefits of outdoor play include helping them to develop their muscle strength and co-ordination. It also encourages self confidence and awareness as they interact with other children whilst they play. This helps to grow their social skills.
In a recent study carried out by the Institute of Technology Sligo and Early Childhood Ireland it was reported that playing outdoors is the perfect learning environment as children learn through play, movement, communication and sensory experiences. Playing outside greatly increases the learning experience when compared to playing indoors. Whilst children in Scandinavian countries are dressed for the weather, the report also found that a lot of Irish parents are inclined not to let their children play outside in inclement weather. It was revealed that 88% of children play outside less in the winter whilst 74% don’t get to play in the rain at all.
To encourage children (and adults) out into the garden you could try having ‘windy day’ and ‘rainy day’ boxes/coat hangers near the back door which contain suitable clothing for a quick exit. A ‘rainy day’ box could include the wellies and a rain coat for example whilst a ‘windy day’ box could contain a warm coat, hat and gloves.
Research reports that some of the other benefits of playing outside for children include improved moods, a stronger immunisation against colds and bugs and lower levels of obesity. Just swinging on a swing builds core stability whilst also helping to develop gross motor skills like movement, balancing and body co-ordination. It also encourages them to look at the world in a different way as playing on a swing gives them a different perspective on the world. This is now a key skill for the modern world where developing creative skills and the ability to look at the world from a different viewpoint are becoming increasingly important for job roles.