Trust the Experts: Why Your Kids Should be Playing Outside
As kids get older and their days (and yours by default!) become more and more booked, it’s important to remember to make time for some technology-free, unrestricted, good-old-fashioned outdoor playtime.
Recent studies have suggested that outside play time has been on the declinel in recent years for several reasons: it’s easier to monitor the kids when they are playing inside, it’s more comfortable for kids and parents to spend playtime inside or in a virtual world, and it’s often hard to fit monitored outdoor playtime into hectic days. However, it’s also important to remember all the benefits of unrestricted outdoor play.
In a recent article in PBS Parents, Dr. Scott Sampson, Vice President of Research and Collections at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, details the advantages of spending some time outside.
“Play researchers adamantly argue that authentic [outside] play is (and has always been) the most critical activity of early childhood, and gives children a number of benefits, including:
- Promoting creativity and imagination, problem-solving and higher IQ scores, and emotional and social development.
- Engendering a sense of self and a sense of place, allowing children to recognize both their independence and interdependence.
- Fostering cognitive, emotional, and moral development, especially in outdoor settings.
- Improving such motor skills as balance, coordination, and agility, critical for growing bodies.”
Dr. Sampson states that the outdoor play isn’t beneficial to just kids. By allowing kids to come in full contact with nature, parents are able to practice “hummingbird parenting” by allowing their kids the ideal amount of freedom while outside by “giving kids space and autonomy to take risks, staying on the periphery sipping nectar most of the time and zooming in only when necessary.” Additionally, by scheduling unscheduled play, both parents and kids are granted a short recess from the chaos of a schedule. So, this summer, pay a favor to both yourself and the kids and pencil in some outdoor fun time!