Exercise and the outdoors are synonymous with a healthy lifestyle. They keep children active and stimulated throughout the week. But did you know that outdoor play can do more for your child than just strengthen their immune system? In fact, outdoor play and outdoor playground equipment are a vital part of early brain development. While your children are out playing, they are also building the fundamental skills they need to become functional and sociable adults.
Without outdoor play, children struggle to adapt to testing social and emotional situations. As parents, it’s important that we encourage them to get outdoors whenever possible. Outdoor play can benefit children in so many different ways, all of which enable them to discover where their greatest talents lie.
Outdoor Play Promotes Independent Learning
One of the great joys of the outdoors is that it offers an endless list of learning possibilities. From organised games in the garden to the chance to let off steam at the park, outdoor play is the perfect way to learn and practise new skills. One such skill is independence, which is often taken for granted in today’s connected world.
Independent learning doesn’t mean playing alone on the swings. It is simply a process by which children learn to solve problems and make key decisions for themselves. Outdoor playground equipment encourages independent learning by offering children a safe environment to take risks and try out new obstacles for themselves. Independence is the key to self-reliance and healthy social interaction.
Outdoor Playground Equipment Teaches Social Skills
We all want our children to grow up happy and sociable. Making friends is never easy, but it’s an important part of growing up. The outdoors offers children the time and space to build these relationships. Outdoor playground equipment such as sandtables and mud kitchens provide a perfect platform for children to talk and interact with one another.
Children tend to find outdoor play far less intimidating than more organised indoor activities. It helps them come out of their shell and join in fun and engaging games. By introducing outdoor playground equipment, you can give your children the social boost they need.
Outdoor Playground Equipment Provides Creative Stimulation
Pictures in a book can never replace the real thing. Children are far more likely to engage with the world if they are given the opportunity to view it with their own eyes. Creativity comes from genuine excitement about an object or place. While books are great for providing that initial spark, outdoor play can be the cornerstone of creative learning.
Playground equipment in the UK is purposefully designed to get children thinking. Open-ended structures like outdoor climbing frames enable children to paint the natural world with their own imaginative twist. Whether they are a pirate sailing the high seas or a train driver bustling through the countryside, creative learning is a staple of any outdoor adventure.
Outdoor Play Improves Children’s Wellbeing
If you’ve ever chilled in the park on a Saturday afternoon, then you know just how calming an outdoor environment can be. Not only does outdoor play allow children to reap the physical benefits of the natural world, it also improves their mental health.
Sitting indoors for long periods of time can lead to unnecessary stress and anxiety, which is significantly reduced during outdoor activities. The freedom of outdoor play encourages children to burn any nervous energy and works wonders for children who have difficulty concentrating at home or in school.
Outdoor Playground Equipment Encourages Intellectual Development
More than anything else, outdoor play helps children make sense of difficult subjects. Along with increased problem-solving and decision-making capabilities, outdoor play equipment also helps children transition from early years learning into a more tasking school environment.
Unstructured play allows children to see the world from another perspective. Creative exploration such as this can be vital to core skills like reading and writing. The more children understand the world they live in, the more likely they are to make a difference in it. Outdoor play equipment offers them this opportunity, with sandtables, outdoor climbing frames and playhouses all great tools for intellectual development.
This is a guest post by Sam Flatman, an outdoor learning specialist and an Educational Consultant for Pentagon Play. Sam has been designing school playground equipment for the past 10 years and has a passion for outdoor education. He believes that outdoor learning is an essential part of child development, which should be integrated into the school curriculum at every opportunity.
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