4 benefits of outdoor play during winter...

 

Anyone who takes children outside regularly sees the enjoyment, and sense of wonder and excitement that is generated when children actively engage with their environment.

Even though it may be cold outside, here are 4 main benefits of heading outdoors during winter.

1. Breathe in fresh air

Not all children have easy access to natural spaces outside, with many families living in built-up urban areas without a backyard. So make the most of your spacious playgrounds, it might be the only chance some children get that day to enjoy the outdoor environment.

It’s no secret that most parents blame winter air as the cause for colds and the flu. Although the viruses that cause flu and colds are more common in the winter months, the circulated air in closed environments (school, childcare) are the main cause of your child getting sick. All of the bacteria, dirt, and other germs simply get recycled through the air vents over and over. The more time you spend inside, the more you are exposed. Nothing is more refreshing than that first deep breath of cold, winter air before starting hours of fun outdoor play.

2. Amazing sensory experiences

Wind blowing the leaves through the grass, tree branches swaying, clouds moving in the sky...

The changing nature of the outdoors makes it an incredibly stimulating and multi-sensory place to play. This is important as babies and young children learn and gain experience through all their senses.

Playing and learning outside also helps children to understand and respect nature, the environment and the interdependence of humans, animals, plants, and life cycles.

3. Boost immune system and promote physical activity

Playing outside allows children an escape from indoor germs and bacteria. This will not only be good for the healthy bunch; the children who are unwell benefit from the fresh air as well. Just make sure they are properly bundled up and moving around to capture and generate warmth. Being outside more often also allows each child to develop a stronger autoimmune system and a resistance to allergies. 

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean children have lost their energy or desire to play. In fact, many health programs suggest that outdoor winter play gives children an opportunity for a change of environment, a balance in play and routine, and large muscle activities which aid gross-motor development.

4. Opportunities for risk taking

For many children, playing outdoors at their early years setting may be the only opportunity they have to play safely and freely while they learn to assess risk and develop the skills to manage new situations. 

The outdoor environment offers space and therefore is particularly important to those children who learn best through active movement. Very young children learn predominately through their sensory and physical experiences which supports brain development and the creation of neural networks.

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So rug up and enjoy the outdoors this winter!

Sarah Cameron