Let’s Get Outside: The Benefits of Outdoor Play – pennycake
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A dad and his two sons play a game outside together

Let’s Get Outside: The Benefits of Outdoor Play

Let’s Get Outside: The Benefits of Outdoor Play

Being in nature just makes you feel good. Pick an environment—the beach, a wooded forest, the desert valleys, or grassy meadows. There’s something for everyone. That might be the reason it’s called the Great Outdoors. Today, with modern tech and busy schedules, getting outside and taking a breath of fresh air can feel like just another thing on the to-do list.

Fortunately, getting outside includes real benefits for everyone, but especially kids. It’s all the more reason to make outdoor time a priority. Journal of Environmental Psychology says that time playing outside improves cognitive functioning, attention, and academic performance in children. Keep reading to learn about the benefits that outdoor play can provide.

The benefits of outdoor play

  1. Mental and Physical Health: Getting outside to play is a great way for kids to counteract long days spent inside. Not only is it fun, it’s also physically healthy. Whether it's running, enjoying the backyard or playground, or playing sports, playing outdoors encourages movement and physical activity, which can help promote overall wellness—in mind and body.
  2. Social Skills: Playing outside can open the door to all kinds of interactive activities. Take building sandcastles, collecting leaves, or exploring trails together—each one opens a door to socialize and practice team-building skills in a low-pressure setting.
  3. Creativity and Imagination: The playground is where imagination thrives. Away from the limitations of being inside, children are free to let their creativity run wild. It’s the best time for inventing new games, playing pretend, and building things out of sticks, rocks, and the occasional pinecone—things structured indoor activities may not offer.
  4. Environmental Awareness: We tend to notice the importance of things when we spend a lot of time with them. In this case, kids are learning constantly to foster an appreciation for the outdoors the more time they spend in it. When we teach kids to be stewards of the planet, we're giving them the power to protect its resources. This way, they can become advocates for the Earth and keep it safe for future generations.

How parents can lead outdoor fun

So now that you know the benefits, let’s look at ways you can take advantage and lead the way:

  1. Lead by Example: Children often want to be just like their parents. If they see you enjoying outdoor activities, they're more likely to join in. Try having dinner outside one night, with some dinner table games to make it even more memorable. When you’re done, take a walk before bedtime to cap off a good day with great weather.
  2. Create an Outdoor-Friendly Environment: Whether it’s in your backyard, on a porch, or right outside your front door, make your outdoor spaces inviting and conducive to play. Think sidewalk chalk, kickballs, bubbles, or even a tire swing if you happen to have a strong tree branch around.
  3. Schedule Time Outside: Just like homework and ballet, outdoor play can be incorporated into your family's routine. Set aside dedicated time every so often for outdoor play, whether it's after school or on weekends. Organize outdoor outings and activities that the whole family can enjoy. Make your way onto a nearby walking trail, head to the beach, or just take a stroll to the nearest park. Let your kids pick out which activity you’ll do together so they look forward to getting outside.
  4. Embrace The Weather: Don't let a little rain or cold weather deter you from spending time outdoors. Dress appropriately for the weather and embrace the opportunity to jump in puddles or make mudpies. Worst-case scenario—bath time happens within minutes of walking in the door.
  5. Join Community Programs: This is a great opportunity to sign your kids up for local opportunities. Look for local parks and recreation sports leagues, nature clubs, or outdoor education programs where your child can get to know other kids in an outdoor setting.
  6. Positive Reinforcement: Positive reinforcement can go a long way in encouraging outdoor play. Encourage spending time outdoors and participating in physical activities, and praise your kids for wanting to engage outside. The positivity is bound to prime their minds for wanting some outdoor playtime in the future.

Fostering a love for outdoor play in children can be incredibly rewarding for both parents and kids alike. So let's step outside, breathe in the fresh air, and embark on countless adventures together. If you’re looking for an avenue outside, check out our product line. We create family games and activities to make your together time easy—whether inside, outside, or on-the-go. If you’re looking for ways to get outside in warm weather, read our other blog post, ‘Spring Into Warm-Weather Family Activities’.

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