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In today’s technology-driven times it is common to find more and more kids glued to the television and their gadgets. Kids of today are increasingly spending their time indoors which is negatively impacting their development and health. Studies indicate a steady escalation in childhood obesity.
On the other hand, playing outdoors offer several mental and physical health benefits to the growing kids. Exposure to outdoor play can positively shape the personality of kids, draw them nearer to nature, help them to develop essential social skills and give impetus to their creativity and imagination.
Playing outdoors should be a vital part of every kid’s growing up years. It is a wonderful way to learn various life skills, a great chance for kids to flourish, run, jump, make a mess, explore their self in natural surroundings. Therefore, it is important for parents to play a conscious and a proactive role in developing a positive outlook towards outdoor games among kids.
Benefits of Playing Outdoor Games for Children
Benefits of playing outside are plentiful for kids of all ages. Some of the benefits of outdoor activities are listed below:
1. Great Learning
Playing outdoor games can be a brilliant way to enhance learning abilities in kids. They may learn important life lessons and skills, develop a problem-solving attitude, get to explore nature, acquire new information and an elementary understanding of science. Moreover, it is learning done through play which can be the best form of learning.
2. Healthy Physical Development
Outdoor play keeps kids active and provides a means to increase their physical stamina and fitness, strengthen their muscles and bones, build immunity, lower the risk of many diseases like diabetes, heart problems, obesity and promote overall better health. Being in the fresh air and sunshine can naturally provide them with the essential vitamin D whose deficiency may cause Rickets. Being exposed to electronic gadgets for long durations can impair a kid’s vision. Outdoor play has proven to improve a child’s overall eyesight.
3. Boosts Creativity
Indulging in outdoor games can inspire kid’s creativity. Being in the open natural surroundings can stimulate a child’s imagination and may stir up a lot of artistic and inventive ideas in him.
4. Acquire Social Skills
Kids may learn to interact effectively with other kids while playing outdoor games in contrast to kids who remain indoors and often become isolated and withdrawn. They may be forced to give up their shells, approach different children, make new friends, take turns to play without adult supervision thereby acquiring social and communication skills in the bargain.
5. Positive Attitude
Children who play outdoors tend to develop a positive attitude and have a calmer and happier disposition. Also, outdoor play provides a great opportunity to channelize kid’s natural energy in a meaningful way.
6. Personality Development
Outdoor play aids in positively developing the personality of a kid. They learn to be independent and self-reliant. They learn to deal with situations on their own, handle emergencies, negotiate setbacks and unfamiliar conditions, sans adult supervision which may instil confidence and make them better equipped to tackle life situations later on. They also learn qualities like discipline, sportsmanship, and team spirit.
7. Improves Attention Span
Playing outdoor games helps to improve the mental faculties of kids. It aids in expanding their attention span, improves their concentration and focus, intensifies their observational and reasoning skills. Kids with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) have also shown remarkable progress in their attention spans while playing outdoors.
8. Attain Motor Skills
Engaging in outdoor games can help kids develop their gross and fine motor skills. They achieve better agility, coordination, and balance by playing outdoor games.
9. Love for Nature
Kids who spend considerable time outdoors may be more inclined to establish a lifelong bond with nature. They may become conscious of the environmental issues like global warming, deforestation, animal conservation and take steps for preserving the nature.
10. Healthier Lifestyles
Kids who productively involve in outdoor games are more likely to lead a well- balanced and healthy lifestyle later in their adulthood. They have good decision-making abilities. They learn to challenge themselves and push their limitations thus becoming better at risk assessment.
Are There Any Disadvantages of Outdoor Games?
Excess of everything can be bad. Likewise, too much of playing outdoor games may not be such a great idea. Some of the likely disadvantages of outdoor games can be:
- Sometimes kids tend to neglect their studies while indulging in excessive outdoor activities. It is important that the kids devote sufficient time to academics as well.
- At times a kid may overexert himself due to his love for playing outdoors leading to physical strain and other health.
- Most of the times kids play outdoor games minus adult supervision which may give rise to concerns about kid’s safety and likely injuries while playing.
- Parents may like to give special attention to the fact that outdoor games should promote every form of play.
How to Encourage Kids for Outdoor Play
Making outdoor play fun for the kids can motivate them to take up outdoor games and sports. You can try taking your kid’s favourite toys like play dough, racing cars, ball, etc. outdoors and cheer them on to explore and play with them differently.
The best way to encourage kids for outdoor play is probably to lead by example. You can initiate an interesting activity like building a bird feeder or painting a wall. Watching you do something fun may make your kid want to join you outdoors.
Consider walking to the nearby market or to the library instead of driving. Your child can get curious about a natural feature or a landmark on the way and may ask questions. You can take the opportunity to add to his knowledge bank.
Discover the natural resources of your area by taking your kid for outings like hiking, fishing, kayaking, camping. You can plan various outdoor activities like a beach trip, a visit to a botanical garden or a farm to arouse your kid’s interest. You can create challenges for your kid like a treasure hunt or an obstacle task and reward him suitably later on.
Avoid making outdoor play too ‘educational’, or ‘academic’. Ensure your child is having fun and enjoying being outdoors! Initially, you can accompany your kid to parks or nature trails but let him explore on his own. Be around to keep an eye but resist interfering and controlling his experience. Offer help only when asked.
The benefits of outdoor games far overshadow the disadvantages of playing outdoor games. Try and create an inviting conducive playing environment which may encourage the kids for outdoor play. Outdoor games provide kids the chance to experience their surroundings employing all the senses. Allow kids to grow up like kids – running, jumping, climbing, racing, swinging, getting dirty so that they may develop healthy habits and blossom into well-balanced personalities.
When a child plays outdoor games with his playmates, it develops his personality. Playing in the open also increases his love for nature and improves his concentration and observational skills. Most importantly, outdoor games develop gross and fine motor skills in a child. But to make sure that these skills develop the right way and his other talents develop as well, get educational kits for him. Educational kits that combine learning and fun can sharpen your child’s brain and provide all-round development.
Also Read: Outdoor Activities for Kids