Spending Time in Nature Supports Children’s Health
Playing outside seems intuitive to supporting children’s health. Academic success and a child’s development can be promoted through spending time outdoors. Unfortunately, with today’s electronic saturated culture, that can be easier said than done. Experts have shown children in the United States spend about 85% of their time indoors with children getting only 30 minutes per day of outdoor unstructured play. Also, young children between the ages of 2 and 5 spend an average of 30 hours weekly with electronic devices and media. A child’s long-term risk of health problems into adulthood including diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, and cognitive disorders can be attributed to too much time sitting. Read below for all the benefits of outdoor activity for children and how preschools and parents can help children connect with nature.
The Benefits of Outdoor Learning Activities
Parents think of education as an indoor only process but, outdoor activities provide children with much needed sensory and information richness which promotes cognitive stimulation and exploration. Nature engages the whole child through an immersive experience and provides a learning environment for fostering cognitive, social and physical development.
- Self Discipline: Kids with access to outdoor spaces exhibit better impulse control and ability to delay self-gratification and the ability to cope with upsetting events.
- Social Development: Studies have shown outdoor play teaches children to get along better with peers.
- Quality of play: Children who play outdoors have been shown to exhibit better concentration, ability to stay on task, motor coordination and agility and also can be more creative and play cooperatively with peers.
- Academic Benefits: Outdoor play integrates subjects like arts, science and language. Children learn to develop math skills when they learn to identify, count and sort different types of nature. Observing water flowing through a creek teaches basic physics and the unpredictability of nature promotes problem-solving.
- Caring for the Environment: Even a simple activity like watering a plant teaches children that we have a role for caring for living things which builds a sense of preservation in the environment.
Spending Time in Nature Supports Children’s Well-Being
Outdoor activities promote a child’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health in a number of ways.
- Increases physical activity – Children tend to be more physically active when they attend schools with outdoor areas or natural settings.
- Gardening is good – Kids who participate in growing food eat more fruits and veggies and have more general knowledge about nutrition. Gardening is one way to instill healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime.
- Better eyesight – More time outdoors has been associated with lower rates of nearsightedness in children.
- Lower stress – Kids with access to trees, plants and even views of natural landscapes exhibit lower stress levels.
- Improved concentration – Even children with ADHD may have an easier time focusing on a task if they spend time outdoors on a regular basis.
- Self-confidence – Unstructured outdoor play provides an almost endless variety of ways to engage with the environment. This builds a child’s confidence in his or her ability to make independent decisions.
Connecting Kids with Nature
Here are just a few of the many activities that can benefit young children:
- Helping to plant trees or other plants
- Digging in the soil
- Observing wildlife
At Apple of Your Eye we understand outdoor play and learning is an important role in child development. All of our locations allow for unstructured outdoor play daily. To learn more about the role of outdoor activities with our curriculum, contact Apple of Your Eye and enroll today.