Outdoor play, as the name suggests, relates to all the activities that children can do outside of their homes. This is the place where children can actually flourish while enjoying in freedom and exploring their surroundings and people. But to our sheer disappointment, this form of playing has taken a back seat with the advent of television, computers, androids, tablets and much more. All these sources of entertainment are good and informative but do hamper overall growth of children while they remain glued to any of these.On the other hand, importance of outdoor play cannot be overlooked. It must be encouraged in younger children, including preschoolers for its various benefits.
Fundamentals of outdoor play
The main purpose of outdoor play is to encourage kids to expose them to outer world where they let themselves loose without fearing anybody. Its not that they should be allowed to show unacceptable behavior but they must be given freedom to shout while playing, jumping, running, hiding, laughing and enjoying themselves to the core in every possible manner. Unlike that enforced discipline pattern for doing everything at school, playgrounds are more critical for bringing out inner desires and capabilities while playing with other children under minimum or no supervision.
Benefits of outdoor play
Physical work out - The most critical benefit of outdoor play lies in the fact that it involves a lot of physical effort. The muscles of the kids naturally become strong when they jump, run, kick, ride cycles or play on swings and sliders. Almost all activities done during outdoor play helps in exercising their bodies and thus, making them robust and active for life challenges.
Risk Psychology - Whether its jumping high or taking rides on high swings and sliders or simply injuring knees and elbows while playing, all outdoor activities inculcate a psychology of risk in the young minds. They get to understand that every enjoyment or happiness in life comes with risks of some kind.
Enhancement of different skills - Playing outdoor leads to enhancement of better communication, social and inter-personal skills as children get to talk to their friends of different cultures or different perspectives. The little brains develop reasoning abilities when they make modifications in the game rules as per their own capabilities and flexibility. They learn to speak and interpret different terms used by others and hence, enhance vocabulary too.
Reduction of obesity - As discussed earlier too, outdoor play involves physical activities and is, thus, very beneficial in reducing chances of obesity in young children. Our eating patterns are chaotic these days owing to the busy schedules of parents. Junk food, aerated drinks, everything with bad oils can take a toll on the health of kids unless they indulge in daily outdoor play and burn maximum calories while having fun.
The Recreation Theory - “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.” We all are very well familiar with this saying. The recreation theory says the same too. It explains that enjoyment is as important as academics. If a child does not rejuvenate his energy by playing leisurely, then, he/she will not be able to concentrate fully on studies too. This is because recreation acts as a battery charger for our body. While children end up reaching home after a tiring day because of studying at school, their body needs to power up the energy to retain all that was taught in the school. Thus, one must encourage children to take a short nap and play outdoor for some time before starting study session at home.
Learning by experience - While children play with different things, they learn so much from their own and their friends’ observations. E.g. stones are heavy and can’t float on water or things like bats or sticks cannot stand on ground without support or leaves of the trees fall on their own during autumn. It is during outdoor play that kids get a chance to know about nature and learn so much with their deep and constant observation.
SummaryTo conclude, we can say that along with indoor activities, outdoor activities should be given equal importance. Parents much encourage and motivate their children to play outdoors daily.