Outdoor play is one of the most important parts of a child’s development and education. It encourages imagination and can foster a connection to nature. Children learn best through doing, so it makes sense to get them outside to really experience things. Vast, open spaces where children’s play can come to full expression, where children can make a mess, run, jump and hide.
In Aotearoa, we are so lucky to have wide-open spaces and access to beautiful beaches and parks. We’re proud of our centre’s commitment to outdoor play – and here’s why:
Many of the developmental tasks that children must achieve—exploring, risk-taking, fine and gross motor development can be most effectively learned through outdoor play. Children need opportunities to explore, experiment, manipulate, practice, as well as to push their limits and create. Children learn lots of basic and fundamental information about how the world works in a very simple way. The outdoors provides natural elements that are open-ended, that can respond to children’s imagination and needs. The exploration of the outside is also important to capture children’s attention to the richness and diversity of nature. Through outdoor play and the exploration of natural elements, it is possible to promote education in its broadest sense. To learn about their own physical and emotional capabilities, children must push their limits.
A Break from Screens
Outdoor play halts the digital bombardment that our children are accustomed to. Spending time doing even the simplest of tasks outdoors like going for a walk, collecting rocks, watching the water – gives them a break from the television, computer, tablet and phone screens that so often surround them.
Everyone, from infants to the elderly, needs physical activity. Exercise promotes healthy cardiovascular systems, mental health and motor skill development. Children who engage in plenty of physical activity tend to grow into more active children and adults, so this early play starts building lifelong healthy habits. Knowing that your children have spent time outdoors at our Busy Bees Ashburton means that, even if you have a busy evening ahead, you can rest assured that they have gotten some exercise and a chance to blow off steam.
Understanding the World
The teachers at our centre'slove watching children start to make sense of the world around them. During outdoor play in the childcare environment, they discover the feeling of sand, grass and dirt; they observe plants growing in nature; they experience sunshine, shade and wind. These are the primary building blocks of their comprehension of the wider world.
Last but most definitely not least, playing outdoors is fun! As parents, a happy child is a top priority right after health and having fun is a sure way to foster happiness in everyone from babies to adults.