Outdoor play is an important part of child care and childhood. It allows children to get fresh air and explore the natural world in a hands-on way. The positive impact of nature, however, goes beyond play and fresh air. In today’s article, we would like to share with you some of the reasons why nature is important to the mental and physical development of children.
Outside, children are free to run and jump and expend all of their energy. This is one of the greatest benefits of outdoor play. It presents children with a fun opportunity to develop large and small motor skills and cardiovascular endurance. This type of physical activity is becoming even more important since children are spending increasingly more time indoors playing video games and watching television.
Whether children are running, leaping, balancing, climbing, throwing, or catching, this physical activity performs a valuable form of stimulation that contributes to healthy mental and physical growth. Even toddlers can benefit from physical exercise and activity. For instance, when you push a child in a swing, they engage muscles, hold on, coordinate their body with the rhythm, and gain valuable insights into physical activity, cause and effect, and spatial awareness.
Contributes To Learning
Playing outside has more to offer than physical benefits. It can also help improve cognitive and social development. Children rely on their senses when learning. Outside is full of a variety of exciting stimuli. From soft plants to robins’ songs to fragrant flowers to cold snow, there are so many opportunities for children to experience and learn using their greatest tools — their curiosity and senses.
Additionally, when playing outside, children are more likely to invent games, especially when playing with others. This allows them to learn about the world, be in control, make decisions, cooperate with others, invent and follow rules, and have fun while learning. It also helps improve communication skills, number relationships (they often pick games that require keeping score and counting), and valuable social customs (learning to play together and cooperate).
Another important lesson that can be delivered through outdoor play is a child’s exploration of their own physical and emotional capabilities through experiments with the physical world. For example, how high can I swing? Can I go down the slide on my own? Does it hurt to fall in the grass? What happens if I throw this rock in the water? Many outdoor areas give children a safe place to explore these questions and topics. And what’s more, their answers often help them intuit an understanding of where they belong in the natural order of things.
Helping children develop an appreciation for the outdoors is one of the greatest benefits of regular outdoor play. The outside world is full of beautiful sounds, sights, textures, and life. Exposing children early on to the beauty of the world around them can be the perfect way to boost the aesthetic development of a child, allowing them to be more aware of all the beauty around them, not just outside.
When playing outside, children learn about the natural elements, weather, seasonal changes, and the awesome variety of plants and animals. This not only helps them understand their readership with nature, but it also enhances their imagination and curiosity about the world around them.
Activities You Can Do Outside With Your Child
With this information in mind, you may be wondering about some of the activities you can do with your child. The number of activities is endless. Below are just a few examples of great outdoor activities:
- Go for a nature walk and encourage discovery
- Set up an obstacle course
- Play parachute
- Try a messy art or craft outside
- Observe and identify all the sounds you hear
- Read a book outside
Remember that the activity doesn’t have to be perfect. Simple activities like observing the leaves change, jumping in rain puddles, or watching the flowers sprout during the spring can be all that you need to provide a valuable and lasting experience with the outdoors.
Montessori School’s Use Of Outdoors
Maria Montessori, founder of the Montessori education method, put a great emphasis on the value of nature and nature education. She believed that it should be used as an extension of the classroom. “There must be provision for the child to have contact with nature; to understand and appreciate the order, the harmony and the beauty in nature,” Maria Montessori once said.
At Omaha Montessori Educational Centers, we strive to not only provide the very best childcare but also the best Montessori education. This means incorporating nature as much as possible, adhering to the values of a Montessori education, and aiming to be as holistic as possible, incorporating the values of the human spirit and the complete development of the child — physically, socially, emotionally, and cognitively.
Top-Rated® Omaha Child Care
If you are in the Omaha area, we encourage you to look into the Montessori teaching philosophy. Read more about us, our childcare facilities, the Benefits of a Montessori Education, and schedule your tour to come and check out one of our Montessori Educational Centers!