As parents, there are a lot of things you can do to boost your child’s immunity. One of them is to allow them to play outside, explore Mother Nature, and make discoveries on their own. Why do you think the generation born in the late ’80s or early 90’s talk so much about skinned knees and elbows? Because they remember how thrilling it is to venture out and bask in the sun.
While the generations after that got so caught up with the incessant technological advancements, one on top of each other, that somewhere along the way, we forgot what it is like to explore the outside world. There are, of course, a dozen different factors contributing to this trend besides technology. In many parts of the world, there is a big safety concern regarding kids playing outside. And more than ever, the biggest factor is this pandemic – forcing us all inside and making the outdoor play with other children a grave health concern.
Playing Outdoor is Essential
With adult supervision and following proper SOPs, you can let your children out even in today’s circumstances. Open spaces outside, such as parks or playgrounds, are where children’s imagination can go wild – it can take off from the conventional modes of thinking and flourish. Big open spaces let children express themselves fully.
It might appear to you as a mess, but it is something out of this world for them. Another most important factor to consider when advocating the importance of outdoor play for children is that this activity should in no way be too overshadowed by academic rules. This should be the child’s time with his or her imagination.
What Does Outdoor Play Do?
Outdoor play is important for young children during their developmental years. Children’s minds achieve major developmental milestones during these early years of life – including fine and gross motor skills, tendency to explore, critical thinking, problem-solving, etc.
All these essential developmental milestones are easily learned outdoor. Throw in a handful of stones in the way of a toddler exploring outside and see how he/she uses them according to this own imagination. Secondly, increasing avenues of playing outside reduces the chances of children being indulged in gadgets.
Why Playing Outside is Important?
1. Physical Exercise
Obesity is one of the growing problems in the children and youth of America. The culture of getting everything upsized and replacing junk food with healthier options has yielded nothing but children sitting idle in front of their gadgets while munching away. Encouraging outdoor play is the greatest option there can be for combating this problem at the grass-root level.
Physical exercise results in a lean and strong body in children. They become more resilient, and their digestive system works better. Research also discloses how physical exercise is critical for developing motor skills and movement skills in young children.
2. Exposure to Sun
If you leave your children outdoors for an unaccounted time in a day, they are sure to get sunburns leading to skin problems. However, in moderation, our skin is in dire need of sunrays. We need to get some sun for our bodies to make vitamin D, which aids in enhancing our immune system and the development of our bones.
Have you seen how peacefully children sleep when they have been out in the sun for a considerable amount of time? Sure, all the physical exercise has to do with it as well, but the vitamin D we obtain from the sun also helps in regulating our sleep patterns. Also, it is an instant mood lifter. Whiny and wimpy kids become the most playful when outside. It is because they feel liberated and are getting vitamin D.
3. Executive Functions
Do you know our minds have different compartments based on the various roles it has to perform for us daily? For instance, there is a compartment in our brain that helps bring out the creativity in us. The other part is dedicated to plan and solve problems. Proper development and nurturance of all of these compartments are essential for overall personality and success in life.
When children learn to love the outdoors, they learn problem-solving and tackling risks. For example, if a toddler wants to ride his bicycle outside and there are toys scattered away in your yard, let him figure out a way to shove them away and continue riding the bike. Being outside helps kids practice what they learn and see – including problem-solving, risk management, and self-defense.
It is understandable if you are worried or anxious about your kids getting hurt or bullied outside. Bullying might be a separate topic that we need to tend to a little differently. However, letting children loose outside within safe boundaries is essential for their growth. You need to let them out of the protective bubble a few times. Let them deal with a small bruise on their own.
Also, if you see them dealing with a friend hot-headedly, observe from afar. Let them sort the issue between them. If you do not let them know how rejection or bullying feels like, you cannot prepare them for the real world.
Socialization is the key to survival in this society. It might not be an excellent idea these days, but telephonic and virtual socialization still requires socialization skills and dealing. From a very young age, children need to know how to move about in small social circles. They should know how to deal with the tantrums of another child in their group. The need to move away from the structured learning of school is very critical in developing empathy, kindness, and nurturing personal traits.
Meeting the same group of friends daily in the school settings under the commands of the teacher is not what is going to prepare your kid for this world in the right way. They need to experience friendships and acquaintances.
6. Loving Nature
Appreciation of nature is what we are mostly lacking as a generation. We are afraid to walk in the woods and plant trees because we have no experience of soil digging or observing insects in their natural habitat. Apart from learning how a caterpillar grows into a butterfly, it is more impactful to witness this magical transformation.
Letting your children love nature is equivalent to raising kids that are more empathetic, caring, and have a heart full of love for nature.
The Future of This Planet
These children we are talking about are the future of our planet. They are the ones holding reigns to a bio-friendly planet that prefers less littering and more recycling. That can only happen if we raise children who know how and why to preserve this nature. If we teach our children the value of appreciating nature, we can be sure of that fact that these children will prioritize preserving nature.
Lastly, playing outside is one of the best family activities that you can incorporate into your routine. Plan an hour or two outside with your children, with them running wild and free. Teach them to smell flowers and care for the stray animals.