How Does Outdoor Play Help Emotional Development?

Kids learn to value nature when they play outdoors. They learn to appreciate that a slide feels smooth, the sun is bright and birds live in trees.

‘Risky’ outdoor play experiences help children learn how to deal with fear, pain and loss. They also learn to analyse their emotions and sort out conflict in calm, diplomatic ways.

Physical Development

Children need to move their bodies to stay healthy and play is the best way for them to do that. Playing outside gives them room to run faster, climb higher and jump farther than they could in a confined indoor space. Even on a chilly or rainy day, it’s important to get kids outdoors for physical activity.

Kids learn about the world around them while playing outdoors, which helps develop their fine and gross motor skills. They also gain confidence by challenging themselves physically and exploring their environment. This leads to a greater understanding of their own abilities and encourages them to push themselves further during future outdoor play.

During outdoor play, kids often engage in sociodramatic play, which involves acting out imaginary scenes and situations, like pretending that a swing set is a pirate ship or that sand and rocks are food in the sandbox. This play teaches kids how to communicate with each other and cooperate, as well as how to problem-solve, follow rules and think creatively.

Compared to watching TV, which only requires the use of two senses, outdoor play exposes children to more sensory experiences, such as how mud feels in their hands and what happens when ice melts. This provides a better understanding of the natural world and helps them develop an intuitive, embodied understanding of how things work, which will come in handy later in life when they encounter scientific concepts for the first time.

Social Development

Outdoor play gives kids a chance to develop social skills. They learn to problem-solve, follow rules and work together during unstructured outdoor play. Playing outside teaches kids how to take turns, share ideas and encourage their peers. They also learn how to interact with people from different backgrounds and cultures. In fact, a recent study found that kids who spend more time playing outdoors are more cooperative and socially expressive than their indoor-playing counterparts.

Kids who regularly play outdoors have better friendships, too. They develop a stronger sense of empathy with their peers and are able to better understand the emotions others are feeling. This helps them build more healthy relationships throughout their lives.

During unstructured outdoor play, kids have more opportunities to push their limits and learn what they are capable of. This may sometimes involve some risks like climbing higher or running faster. While it can lead to scrapes and falls, it’s a necessary part of childhood development. It teaches them to be resilient and helps them become more confident in their abilities.

Children who play outside frequently develop a connection with nature and care for it. They are more likely to take care of their local park or green space, which in turn teaches them sustainability. They also have a greater understanding of seasonal changes and how they affect their environment.

Emotional Development

As kids interact during outdoor play, they learn how to cooperate with their peers in constructive ways. This builds social-emotional skills, such as listening to others and taking turns, while also promoting self-control by allowing them to release energy through physical activity. In addition, outdoor play can help children build empathy for their friends, as they see that they are not alone in their struggles.

During outdoor play, children also practice self-regulation through risk analysis and conflict resolution. For instance, they may learn to take risks in safe settings and push their boundaries through imaginative dramatic play. They may also learn how to resolve disagreements with peers through communication, encouragement and positive reinforcement. These skills are essential for building healthy and stable friendships, as well as developing a sense of independence.

While some parents might be worried about kids getting hurt during outdoor play, it is important for them to understand that these experiences are necessary for learning. Kids who are kept away from these types of ‘risky’ play experiences are more likely to get seriously hurt later in life.

Spending time outdoors can also reduce symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder and hyperactivity, according to a 2019 study. This is because the natural environment offers a break from the often overwhelming world of technology that our children are exposed to today.

Cognitive Development

Playing outside gives kids more opportunities to learn by observation and experimentation. They can explore the natural world with all of their senses, such as smelling a flower or watching a bird fly. They can also practice their problem-solving skills as they work together to figure out how to make the swings go higher or build a bigger structure in the sandbox.

Being outdoors can also help with cognitive development because it gives children a chance to work out their emotions. For example, being outside can help kids learn to negotiate with others, take turns and deal with frustration. Developing these skills can help kids develop more healthy social relationships, as they know how to communicate with their friends and how to compromise with them. It can also help them understand that not everyone agrees all the time, which is important for building self-esteem.

Kids who spend more time playing outside can be more flexible and adaptable in the classroom. They are more likely to use their imagination during class and learn to work in groups, which is a skill they need for many academic subjects. In addition, outdoor play gives children the opportunity to exercise their creative muscles, which can lead to more innovative ideas and projects.

Kids who are limited in their outdoor play may be more stressed, anxious and less focused in the classroom. They also have a harder time turning off their tablets and engaging in playful activities at home or other places. Getting them to play in nature can be challenging, but gradually exposing them to the benefits of outdoor learning over time can help.

Author: sonal gupta

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