Monday, September 7, 2015

Outdoor Play!


There are two fundamental reasons why outdoor play is critical for young children in our early childhood programs and schools:

1. Many of the developmental tasks that children must achieve—exploring, risk-taking, fine and gross motor development and achieving basic knowledge—can be most effectively learned through outdoor play.

2. Our culture is taking outdoor play away from children through excessive TV and computer use, unsafe neighborhoods, busy parents, educational accountability, and even elimination of school recess.


 The following describe the main reasons why outdoor play is CRITICAL for the healthy development of young children.

Physical Exercise

Children need to develop large motor and small motor skills and cardiovascular endurance. Extensive physical activity is also needed to address a growing problem of obesity in American children.

Enjoyment of the Outdoors

Outdoor play is one of the things that characterize childhood. Children need opportunities to explore, experiment, manipulate, reconfigure, expand, influence, change, marvel, discover, practice, dam up, push their limits, yell, sing, and create.

Learning about Self and the Environment

To learn about their own physical and emotional capabilities, children must push their limits. To learn about the physical world, the child must experiment with the physical world. An essential task of development is appreciating how we fit into the natural order of things—animals, plants, the weather, and so on. We can discover this relationship with the natural world only by experiencing it as we grow up, develop, and interact with the natural environment.

Constructive Play.
Research continually shows that constructive play is the preschoolers’ favorite kind of play, probably because they can and do control it. Constructive play is encouraged by using sand and water play, providing a place for art, woodwork and blocks, wheeled toys, and lots of loose objects throughout the playground. Constructive play occurs in sandboxes, in sand and water areas, on flat surfaces, even on grass.

Social Play.
Children need lots of opportunities outside to develop basic social skills and social competencies: pushing each other on the swing, pulling a wagon carrying another child, playing together in the sand, and so on. Clearly, physical play, constructive play, and sociodramatic play also involve social play, especially if the equipment encourages the engagement of more than one child.

Since our children experience fewer and fewer opportunities to explore nature, run, roll, climb, and swing and because outdoor play is part of being a child, we must find a variety of ways to provide quality outdoor play experiences for children.