How children learn and develop through outdoor play

Outdoor play at Kidz Village International Kindergarten is planned and  purposeful – the daily schedule is arranged to integrate outdoor play as part of the daily routine, and our environment is planned to have areas which will  support different types of play and activity.

Aside from having fun, outdoor play supports a range of areas of development and learning. This is not an exhaustive list, but let’s take a  look at 10 of them!

  1. Motor skills – many outdoor activities help to develop agility, balance, coordination, power, reaction time, and speed.
  2. Muscle strength – active play and movement helps  develop muscle strength in arms, legs and  torso.
  3. Overall physical health – outdoor activity leads to improved sleep, improved cardiovascular health, as well as the benefits of sunlight – vitamin D – which enhances mood and boosts immunity.
  4. Appreciation for the environment – playing outdoors allows opportunities for  new discoveries and joys. Children learn to love nature through their own experiences, and engaging with the outdoors motivates children to appreciate and want to care for nature.
  5. Communication and peer relationships – outdoor play tends to be less restrictive  and structured than indoor play which allows children to be less inhibited. Outdoor play often involves more teamwork or planning, for example making up their own games is common and  encourages discussion and peer planning.
  6. Uses all 5 senses -almost all outdoor play will include hearing, touching, smelling, and looking. While taste may not always be included it often is such as by licking sweat off your upper lip or  stopping for a drink of water. This range of sensory input helps children learn how to process information.
  7. Independence – there is a sense of freedom felt outdoors that is different than indoors, and children are more open to explore and experiment without guidance or instruction, and to test their own boundaries and capabilities. 
  8. Self-reflection – this is integral to learning how to deal with daily stresses or difficulties, and because outdoor play has an element of unpredictability, kids are more likely to experience a range of  both “successes” and “failures” and the range of emotions that goes with them.
  9. Resilience –  again, the unpredictability of outdoor play can help kids learn to withstand emotional and physical difficulty. Many outdoor play experiences can teach kids to push through uncomfortable situations, building confidence and internal motivation. As a result, kids learn to work through their fears and stress.
  10. Overall mental health – putting it all together, being active and playing outdoors supports lower stress and increases happiness.

With all these benefits to getting outside and playing, check in with your child’s school or kindergarten to make sure that outdoor play is part of the daily routine. And you don’t have to stop there – look for opportunities to get outside and play with your child, or quietly observe from the sidelines!