Did you know that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children ages eight to 10 spend an average of six hours per day in front of a screen? These hours are often spent at the expense of outdoor, unstructured playtime, and it’s starting to have an impact on the well-being and development of our children.
At Blue Squirrel, we hope to bring back the days when kids roamed the great outdoors of their own backyards, engaging in structured free play for hours. Our Clubhouse is designed to foster collaborative and physical play with features like a soccer net, monkey bars and a rock climbing wall, alongside creative play features like a chalkboard, pegboard wall and window boxes–all meant to be enjoyed in fresh air and sunshine. Here are just a few of the ways outdoor play can benefit your child:
Physical Development Benefits
Active outside play directly impacts a child’s weight, physical strength and ability to fight off illness. In addition to a lower body mass index and improved muscle strength, kids who spend more time outdoors tend to have more advanced motor skills than their indoor peers. Outside, children have the space to run, jump and climb, giving them more opportunities to develop their risk assessment skills and become confident in their physical abilities.
Social Development Benefits
Children who play outside are more likely to develop observational and reasoning skills which results in greater self-awareness and awareness of the feelings of their peers. Outside play teaches children how to make friends, share, cooperate and how to communicate when and if they get overwhelmed. Another often overlooked social development of outside play is a greater appreciation of nature and their environment. As they age, their fond memories of experiences like catching fireflies and watching squirrels run around motivate them to protect the environments they loved as kids.
Emotional Development Benefits
We all know the effect a bright, sunny day can have on our mood and the same applies for children. Sun exposure increases the production of vitamin D which helps boost the immune system, general mood and aids in healthy sleep (just don’t forget the sunscreen!). Time in nature is also soothing, which also helps improve mood and reduce stress. It can also help to increase your child’s attention span since nature moves at a slower pace than programs on a screen. Speaking of the screen, outdoor play incorporates the use of all five senses (as opposed to only sight and hearing with a screen) which helps them process various sensory experiences. Finally, being outside can help a child develop their own sense of independence. Even if you’re nearby, children feel a sense of freedom when they’re outdoors playing on their own.
Intellectual Development Benefits
Time spent in nature improves cognitive function for all of us, but the effect is especially strong among children. Playing outside helps children explore the world around them, inventing games with other children and practicing decision-making and problem-solving skills that they’ll continue to develop into adulthood. Imaginative outdoor play also increases their creativity and learning abilities, helping them understand that education can happen outside of the classroom and be fun too!
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