Importance of Outdoor Play: Let Your Child Get Messy and Dirty

Outdoor play is an important aspect of your child’s life, and it can help your child’s physical, cognitive, social and emotional development and also strengthen family bonds at the same time. However, there has been a dramatic decline in green spaces and play areas over the last few decades. Moreover, the growth of the internet and online video games means that children today are spending considerably less leisure time outdoors.

picture by foxypar4

picture by foxypar4

Research indicates that parents do not understand the importance of outdoor play. According to a report published in the UK newspaper The Guardian, five percent of parents said they had forgotten how to play with their children, and a third of parents admitted that playing games and activities with their families was boring. This report also identified that there was poor parent-child communication about games and activities, which was a key part of any problems faced during family playtime. While parents thought that their children enjoyed playing computer games the most, children actually preferred board games and outdoor activities.

There are plenty of good resources on child development, and these websites can help you plan fun, beneficial, and educational activities for your children. Here are some good examples of fun and innovative outdoor activities that your kids are sure to enjoy.

Water play for kids

Water play is a type of sensory activity that can foster your child’s physical, cognitive and socio-emotional development. Playing with water provides great opportunities for children to strengthen their gross motor skills as they kick, swim, or throw and catch a ball in the water. Children acquire social and emotional skills through playing in the water as they interact with others and share toys with adults and other kids. Children also have the opportunity to expand their vocabularies as they learn new words like ‘splash’, ‘sprinkle’, ‘funnel’, and ‘sieve’. In addition, children can learn more about mathematics and science while experimenting in the water – determining whether various objects sink or float, for example.

There are many different outdoor water play activities that are fun for all ages. Younger kids may get a lot of pleasure simply from playing with funnels and containers of different sizes, or squirting each other with water guns on a hot summer day. Kids enjoy swimming, as well, whether in an outdoor pool or in the sea.

Ball games for kids

If you play a ball game like football, basketball, or cricket, your child will learn many things. Kicking a ball promotes spatial awareness and control of the foot and leg muscles, and children will learn how to control the speed and force they use when kicking balls of different sizes. Throwing and catching balls also help to strengthen your child’s arm and back muscles. While playing with their peers, children develop empathy with others. They learn to share and take turns, when to lead, when to follow, and how to cooperate as part of a team.

Outdoor games for children that require no specialist equipment

Some popular children’s games that require minimal materials are hide and seek, jumping rope, hopscotch, rolling the hoop, and hula hooping. These games may be simple, but they are still lots of fun! You can draw a hopscotch game layout on any concrete surface with a chalk, and kids can use small stones as markers.

Since these physical activities and games involve movement of large muscles, they help to strengthen your child’s gross motor skills. Children also acquire coordination skills through jumping, skipping, running, and hopping. By playing with adults and peers, children learn to work in group, to share, to negotiate and resolve conflicts.

The rise in car ownership and increased road traffic have heightened parental concern about safety of outdoor play for children, and some parents are also concerned about dirt and germs. While we cannot eliminate the risks associated with outdoor play, we can manage these risks and still give our children the benefits of playing outside. Do not limit your child’s play – let your child get messy and dirty. If you are worried about getting stains out from your child’s clothes, Surf Excel offers some easy laundry tips and clothes care information to wash your child’s clothes better.