Friday, 26 August 2016

How Outdoor Play Builds A Healthy Brain - Guest Post

There’s no denying the effect thatoutdoor exercise has on our bodies. Not only does it help tackle obesity, it also reduces the risk of heart disease and improves core motor skills at the same time. Sound too good to be true? Well, it gets even better. The outdoors are more than just a chance for children to keep their bodies healthy. Through the process of outdoor play, they are also developing their minds.

For some, outdoor play might just be a collective name for outdoor activities. But to experts, it is a much more specific term. Children use play as a way to learn about their environment and the people surrounding them. Outdoor play helpschildren make sense of the natural world and get to grips with their own capabilities within it. While play time might seem like fun and games, it is also a great opportunity for children’s development to flourish.

The Effect Of Outdoor Play On Development

The outdoors is an abundant source of engaging and stimulating activities. Children crave outdoor play because it is such a fundamental part of their development. It teaches them the importance of making independent decisions, taking calculated risks and exploring the very realms of possibility. When opportunities for outdoor play are limited, children tend to lack these vital skills. Finding the time and the resources to initiate outdoor play can be difficult, but it should also be considered a top priority.

Even as babies, children begin to understand the importance of interacting with their surroundings. By the time they are one year old, this fascination has stretched to include familiar people, too. Through parallel play, toddlers begin to socialise with other children — though, for the most part, this play is still independent. It’s only when they reach the age of two that they begin to test out the ideas of cooperation and sharing.

By providing your child with as many opportunities as possible for outdoor play, you ensure they are given the time and space to develop healthily. The outdoors areproven to relieve stress and anxiety, making it much easier for your child to relax around others. Along with the unstructured element of parallel play, this effect creates the perfect recipe for fun and engaging learning. Children are naturally wired to enjoy the outdoors, so it’s a great place to get them thinking and creating.

Outdoor Play Equipment Vs Screen Time

Outdoor playequipment can be an ideal way to engage children in outdoor activities. As they grow, children need more and more challenging scenarios to keep their brains active. Nowadays, we’ve become far too reliant on technology for this purpose. Unfortunately, tablets and smartphones can only go so far towards helping the mind stay motivated. In fact, with children more and more likely to become digitally addicted, we could begin seeing their attention span decrease and their ability to socialise drop with it.

Outdoor play carries none of these unwanted side effects. Play equipment such as children’s climbingframes, wooden swings and sand and water pits all offer the brain something more useful to feed on. School playgroundequipment at many schools also offer the same benefits. They aren’t just visually stimulating projections; they are actual, tangible objects. Children can spend hours playing on an outdoor climbing frame and still find plenty of ways to keep it interesting. A smartphone app quickly becomes very one-dimensional. If we’re going to addict our children to anything, then surely it should be quality, outdoor activities?

It can be easy to overlook outdoor play in favour of less taxing pastimes. But, by doing so, you can actually prevent children from developing properly. Children’s brains are designed for play and the outdoors can provide them with all the stimulation they need to learn and grow.

This is a collaborative post 

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