Get Outside: The Benefits of Outdoor Play
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, adults and children today spend 90 percent of their lives indoors, but there is significant research about the academic and social-emotional benefits of being outside. For example, gardening activities that require minimal focus, like weeding, decrease stress levels and improve energy.
For children, playing and learning outdoors can be especially important. In “Last Child In The Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder,” author Richard Louv offers some insights that remind us about the importance of outdoor play:
The healthiest activities are those in unstructured natural spaces. Studies show that children who played in rocky, uneven, tree-filled areas had better balance and agility than their concrete counterparts.
Don’t bring toys to the park, instead let sticks and hills become swords and forts. Allow kids to build and imagine; constructing castles and making mud-pies are great ways for kids to learn about natural sciences.
Limit adult intervention. Being able to take risks and problem-solve helps kids learn perseverance. Kids who were regularly exposed to nature have been found to be more resilient in high-stress situations.
Foster more outside playgroups with friends, particularly for kids that have a strong creative side but lack natural athleticism. One study found that on blacktop playgrounds physical ability established the pecking order, but in wilder places creative children became the leaders.
For more benefits of powering down and grabbing some fresh air, visit www.onegreenplanet.org.