Children today spend less time outdoors than any other generation, devoting only four to seven minutes to unstructured outdoor play per day and spending an average of seven and a half hours in front of electronic media.
These statistics are significant because experts agree that outside play builds healthier children. Outdoor activities such as running, jumping, throwing, pulling and catching require motor skills and aerobic exercise. Playing outside also provides opportunities for children to reap the benefit of soaking in vitamin D, which according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP); four out of every ten toddlers and children are vitamin D deficient. Children burn calories, strength bones and muscles when they are running and jumping. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims childhood obesity rates more than doubled from 1980 to 2010, outdoor play for at least one hour per day of moderate to vigorous activity is highly recommended.
When outdoor play is completely unstructured, children come up with their own plan; when they choose how to play and are provided the freedom to do so, they develop positive behavioral skills. Children are more imaginative and inventive when they explore and learn about the world around them. Behavior skills develops a child’s communication skills and fosters their ability to play well with others.
Are you having trouble with your child’s attention span? Playing outside can increase the amount of time they are able to focus. The AAP found that outdoor play helps develop a child’s ability to stay more focused in the classroom; it too promotes creativity that allows them to perform better in the classroom and academic learning.
Playing outside gives children the freedom to practice important life skills. Time alone, and with other children will give them the opportunity to make decisions, practice creativity, problem-solve. Of course, these skills are recognized as valuable to future planning, prioritizing and multitasking.
The benefits go on and on. Send your children outside in the backyard to play. Give them the freedom to play however they want to exercise their mental and physical wellness.