In today’s busy world, it can be challenging for parents and carers to find ways to spend quality time with their children. With many families leading increasingly sedentary lifestyles, getting outside can be an excellent way to bond and engage in physical activity.
Playing outdoors is crucial for children’s development. It promotes physical activity, which is essential for good health, strong bones and muscles; encourages children to explore the world, fostering curiosity and a sense of wonder; and allows children to develop their social skills as they interact with peers and learn to communicate, cooperate and negotiate.
Being outdoors in natural light helps regulate circadian rhythms, which is essential for healthy sleep patterns, mood and cognitive function. Outdoor play also allows children to take risks, build resilience, and develop problem-solving skills, all of which are important for their overall growth and development.
Below are some of the benefits of spending more time outside with your children:
Playing outdoors has many mental health benefits that can improve your child’s overall well-being. Being in nature and away from technology can help reduce stress and anxiety levels, and studies have shown that doing so can lower cortisol levels, the hormone associated with stress. As well as spending time in nature, exposure to sunlight can also increase serotonin levels, which helps regulate mood and decrease symptoms of depression – but don’t forget sunscreen and a sunhat for those extra sunny days!
Children love to run around, play games and explore the world around them. Allowing time outdoors gives them this opportunity and promotes physical activity, which is linked to better mental health outcomes. Exercise releases endorphins, which improve mood and reduce feelings of frustration. Additionally, physical activity can help improve self-esteem and confidence, which can positively impact mental health.
Outdoor play can be more unstructured than indoor play, allowing parents and children to follow their interests and unleash their creativity together. This unstructured time can help parents better understand their children’s personalities and interests, which can strengthen their bond.
Playing outdoors also provides an opportunity for parents and children to share new experiences and create memories together. Whether it’s exploring a local park, going for a bike ride or playing catch, these shared experiences can help build a stronger bond.
Nature trails can also be a great way for families to explore the outdoors and appreciate nature. Parents can take their children on a nature walk and use the time to educate them about plants, animals, and other natural features they may encounter – and it’s the perfect opportunity for a fun family picnic!
One of the most significant benefits of playing outdoors is that it helps children connect with nature. When children play outdoors, they can observe different animals, plants and ecosystems, which helps them understand the importance of nature in their lives. They can explore different textures, smells and colours of nature, which stimulates their senses and creates a deep connection with the environment.
This connection is essential for fostering a love and appreciation for nature, which can inspire children to become environmental stewards in the future.
One activity that helps children connect to nature is building a garden. Planting a garden can be an excellent way to get everyone outdoors and involved in a project. Children can help pick out the plants and get involved in the planting process. This activity can also teach children responsibility and give them a sense of accomplishment when they see the plants grow.
Encouraging children to play outside can be a challenge, especially in today’s digital age where screens and devices are everywhere. Here are some tips to help get your children excited about playing outside:
We recognise that outdoor learning is a vital part of children’s development and well-being. This is why we’ve always encouraged outdoor play as part of your children’s daily routine. Where possible, we provide direct access to a secure outdoor play area for children to access throughout the day as and when they wish.
At Kids Planet, we incorporate the practice of Udeskole across many of our nurseries. This is the theory and practice of outdoor learning in natural settings using the local environment to teach. The Udeskole approach differs from the more commonly known forest school sessions as it aims to make outdoor learning a day-to-day experience, rather than a planned and structured event that only a selection of children can participate in at any one time.
There are several benefits to children that come with Udeskole:
Overall, Udeskole can be a valuable addition to a child’s education, providing a holistic approach to learning that benefits both their physical and mental well-being. Outdoor education is a vital part of a child’s development and provides a holistic, well-rounded understanding of the world, themselves and their abilities. Be sure to listen to our Outdoor Lead Rhiannon’s story and learn more about the Udeskole approach.
Want to learn more about Kids Planet and see our settings for yourself? Find your local nursery using our Find a Nursery tool and book in for a tour of our beautiful nursery settings.