In today’s guide, we take a close look at the incredible importance of outdoor play for children, including those under five. Outdoor play isn’t just about fun; it’s one of the cornerstones of childhood learning and development and has an immense number of benefits for little ones. So, in this comprehensive article, we’ll explore why outdoor play is so essential for our youngsters and how its effects can be transformative. Let’s take a look…
Before we set off on our outdoor adventure, though, let’s put safety first. Outdoor play should always be supervised, especially for young children. Ensuring a safe environment is paramount. With that in mind, we invite you to explore our top tips for outdoor safety for children, which are designed to help supervising adults keep children secure while they explore and learn in The Great Outdoors.
Adventure Awaits Outdoors!
For children, the outdoors represents a magical place where fun, exploration and real adventure can take place. Picture a world where a simple stick can become a wizard’s wand, or a puddle can transform into a treasure-filled lagoon, and you’ll soon understand how exciting the outdoors can be for children. Indeed, outdoor play is the realm of limitless imagination. It offers children a vast canvas in which to immerse themselves into adventures, fostering creativity and igniting their instinctive curiosity.
Learning Through Exploration
The Great Outdoors serves as a natural classroom, with true hands-on learning experiences that provide numerous opportunities for children to acquire new skills and knowledge. Whether it’s identifying birds, navigating outdoor climbing equipment at the nursery, or discovering minibeasts, the world outside really is a superb teacher.
Physical Benefits of Outdoor Play
Outdoor play is a powerful catalyst for physical development. Activities like climbing, running, and jumping help children build stronger bodies. It enhances fitness, fine-tunes motor skills, and improves balance and coordination. These physical skills are real foundations for a healthy, active life.
A wealth of studies has illuminated the positive impact of outdoor play on children’s mental health. It reduces stress, anxiety, and depression and thereby goes a long way in promoting overall well-being. The calming, positive influence of nature and the opportunity to disconnect from screens and social media all contribute to a happier, healthier mindset in children of all ages.
Outdoor Play & the EYFS
Outdoor play also seamlessly aligns with the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework, another key cornerstone of early learning and development. It can potentially support all prime and key areas of the EYFS, especially aiding children in communication and language, physical development, personal, social, and emotional development, and understanding the world.
A Feast for the Senses
Outdoor play engages all the senses and sensory stimulation is particularly important during children’s early years. That’s a time when millions of new pathways form in the brain with every interaction. From the vibrant colours of flowers to the feel of grass underfoot, children’s senses come alive in the outdoors, especially close to nature. Beyond the five main senses, proprioception (awareness of body position) and vestibular senses (balance and spatial orientation) also play a crucial role during outdoor play.
In today’s digital age, outdoor play offers a refreshing break from screens like TVs, smartphones, tablets and game consoles. It encourages children to be more active and explore the real world. Outdoor play also fosters an interest in a healthier lifestyle that has less screen time and more physical activity. Such a balance is essential for overall well-being, health and fitness and may even contribute to a reduction in rates of obesity in children.
The outdoors serves as an exceptional classroom. When they’re playing outside, children effortlessly absorb knowledge about the world around them. In the open air, they will naturally learn about nature, seasons, different types of flora and fauna, and how the environment functions. It is true learning through discovery.
Outdoor play is a catalyst for social interaction too. During outdoor play, children make new friends, strengthen existing friendships, and learn valuable social skills like sharing, cooperation, teamwork and conflict resolution. Such skills are the very building blocks of positive relationships and will stand children in good stead as they grow older.
Communication skills absolutely flourish outdoors. Whether it’s narrating their imaginative adventures or engaging in conversations with peers, children will refine their communication skills in totally natural ways. Building on communication skills enhances their ability to express themselves effectively, builds confidence and is a key tool for their very survival when you think about it.
The open spaces of the outdoors also serve as a wonderful canvas for creativity. Children’s imaginations run wild outdoors as they invent games, stories, and art inspired by the natural world. Outdoor play encourages them to think in new, innovative, ways and to truly embrace their creative potential.
Outdoor play also empowers children to assess risks independently. While playing outdoors, they will learn to make decisions, evaluate situations, and take calculated risks, all of which will help prepare them for life’s challenges.
As children master outdoor activities, their self-esteem, self-confidence, and independence will soon begin to flourish. Such qualities are vital for their overall growth, happiness and indeed future success.
Preparing for School…
All the benefits of outdoor play combine to help prepare children for the transition to school. The skills and lessons that outdoor play has taught them will help them enter formal education equipped with the social, cognitive, and physical skills they need to absolutely thrive.
…& Into Adulthood
Outdoor play is so much more than a childhood pastime; it represents a series of natural stepping stones in a child’s journey towards adulthood. The skills, knowledge, and well-being children gain from outdoor play will serve as the very foundations that will help them throughout their lives.
Outdoor Play at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham
At Little Cedars Nursery, we really understand the profound impact that outdoor play has on early childhood development. With that in mind, our childcare practitioners ensure that children are given every opportunity to immerse themselves in a wide range of outdoor activities that help to nurture every child’s learning, growth, curiosity, and resilience. And let’s not forget one more important factor about outdoor play — it’s simply immense fun for children! As such, it is a perfect way to facilitate learning in the most natural way of all — through play.
Childcare Places at Little Cedars Nursery & Preschool, Streatham
As a parent or guardian of a baby or child under five, you’ll naturally want to find the best nursery or preschool in your area, and Little Cedars certainly ticks all the boxes for childcare in the Streatham area. We are rated officially as a ‘Good Provider’ of childcare and early years education by Ofsted, so you know your child will be in good hands. We’re also convenient to families living/working in the following areas nearby: Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.
To request a childcare place for your child, a guided tour, or answers to any questions you might have, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to help: