Playing outside is one of the greatest joys of childhood. I vividly remember playing on my school’s playground as a little girl—running, swinging, skipping, playing tag with my friends. Those were the good ole days! Now as a mom and the Director at School for Amazing Kids, Calera I realize just how important it is for kids to play outside, get messy and let loose! Sure it’s fun (and let’s be honest…it wears them out and ensures they get a good night’s sleep!) but it serves a much larger purpose than just having a good time.
When your child plays outside, she’s running, laughing, skipping, swinging and probably yelling too!
Young children need the opportunity to use their entire body in order to develop their gross motor skills. Gross motor skills are movements of the large muscles of the body such as walking, running, squatting, hopping and climbing. Once they master those gross motor skills children are developmentally ready to work on fine motor skills. These skills use small muscles in the fingers, hands and forearms. As children get older they use their fine motor skills to explore the world in increasingly sophisticated ways. They learn to perform crucial tasks like reaching and grasping, moving objects and using tools like crayons, pencils and scissors. As children get better at moving their hands, their hand-eye coordination improves. They use all of these skills and developments to succeed in school.
Playing outside is also the best way for your child to get some exercise. In our American culture one out of every five children are considered obese or overweight. Children who don’t get enough exercise are at an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, according to the National Center for Physical Development and Outdoor Play. Establishing a desire to be active in their early years increases the likelihood that children will grow up to enjoy an active lifestyle.
We make sure your child gets time outside EVERY DAY!
On top of that, there are also mental, emotional, cognitive and social benefits to playing outside. When your child plays outside, she’s running, laughing, skipping, swinging and probably yelling too! This gives her time to express herself, explore her abilities, discover new things and make sense of the world around her. Freedom to explore and express herself decreases stress and increases creativity. Studies also show that playing improves your child’s memory, thinking skills and ability to learn.
Finally, playing outside alone is certainly beneficial but when your child plays with other children he is learning about cooperation, empathy, patience, taking turns, following rules and how to behave as a member of a group. In addition, playing with other children allows your child to make friends, resolve conflicts and express his feelings.
As you can see, the benefits to playing outside are enormous! That’s why at all of our schools we make sure every child (apart from infants) gets time outside EVERY DAY! Unless, it’s storming or below freezing we are on our playgrounds making sure your child is running around with his friends, getting dirty and having a blast! If you’d like to join us sometime, ask your child’s teacher about scheduled playtimes. We’d love to have you play with us!