According to many experts, your child should be getting anywhere from an hour to three hours of outdoor play a day, and the summer marks the prime time to do it. However, a lot of the time, you hear reasoning and excuses as to why this doesn’t happen. Perhaps your child isn’t a fan of outdoor activities, or maybe your yard requires a lot of work in order to get it ready and safe for play. However, this isn’t the type of thing you want to skip—and there are many reasons why.
One thing we need to understand is no matter how much movement or exercise you get indoors, there’s still no replacement for the role of sunlight. Sunlight is our prime source of Vitamin D, which is important for a lot of the things that keep us healthy, from our immune system to how our bones develop. A lot of these are even more essential for children, whose bodies are still growing and have more nutritional requirements in some case than your average adult.
In addition, outdoor play is the best source for unstructured playtime for a child, which means more than you may think. Unstructured play is important because it is open-ended with no type of singular goal, like you would get from a video game or some form of instructor led-activity. Pediatric occupational therapist and founder of Timbernook, Angela Hanscom, explains that “as we continue to decrease children’s time and space to move and play outdoors, we are seeing a simultaneous rise in the number of children that are presenting with sensory deficits.” By letting them play outside, you are not only helping the bodies of children, but the way they think as well.
There are also several other important traits that children pick up almost exclusively through outside play. For example, many people will agree that an interest and respect for nature are traits they want their children to have, but how can they do that without the chance to see nature first-hand? One other thing that’s worth mentioning is how playing outside allows for socialization.
Take a close look the next time you see a group of young children interacting with each other on a playground. Different things like the ability to make friends, cooperate, and treat others are all on full display. The strides they make now without even knowing it pay off later in school and other structured settings. There are lots of awesome swing sets for your backyard to choose from that will transform your backyard.
The benefits of getting your kids to play more often are varied and essential. From improving their health and activity to facilitating social activity with other children, there’s no substitute for regular outdoor play. But what about those days where there’s not enough time to go to a park or playground and you want some safely monitored fun?