Benefits of outdoor play for kids

Outdoor play is a big part of healthy growth, learning, development and well being for your child.
Why outdoor play is important

Playing outside gives your child the chance to explore the natural environment and have adventures. She can play favourite games, test her physical limits, express herself and build her self-confidence.

Outdoor play can also mean more mess – and more mess often means more fun!

When your child is outside, he probably has more space and freedom for big movements, like running, jumping, kicking and throwing. Physical activities like these are good for his health, fitness and physical development.

Spending time outdoors might lower your child’s chances of being short-sighted. And a bit of safe play in the sun can be good too – small amounts of sunlight exposure can help boost vitamin D levels.

Getting your child into outdoor play: ideas

It’s a good idea to encourage your child to play outside several times a day.

Outdoor play doesn’t have to be a big deal, particularly if you have an outdoor space at your home. Especially with older children, sometimes all you need to do is send them out the door and let them come up with their own games. When younger children are playing outside, though, they need your help to stay safe around outdoor hazards.

Many younger children love to ‘help’. This means that outdoor play can include working with your child on everyday tasks like weeding, sweeping the driveway, watering vegetables or hanging clothes on the line.

Making time to visit your local park, oval or playground is a low-cost and easy option, especially if you don’t have a yard. Your child will probably have even more room to run around there and might meet other children.

If you can walk to the park, you can also teach your child about road and pedestrian safety on the way. Even younger children can get out of the stroller and walk for a little while. Walking together shows that you value and enjoy outdoor activity too. Other outdoor, active transport activities include riding bikes or scooters.

As your child gets older, you could encourage her to try a structured outdoor activity like junior sport.

Bumps and bruises when playing outside

It’s natural to worry that your child could hurt herself when playing outside. Sometimes your child might be worried about trying something new. This is all a normal part of outdoor play, and these worries shouldn’t keep your child from playing outside.

It’s OK for your child to push the play boundaries outside, where he has room to run faster, climb higher and jump further.

It might mean some tears, a scrape or a fall, but ‘risky play’ helps your child learn from mistakes and bounce back.

Children who have been kept away from these outdoor experiences are more likely to get seriously hurt when they have outdoor experiences.