Getting outside is super simple when it is summer or hot and the weather is just right. Opening the back door and letting the kids explore, make a mess, paint, run, jump, sing is all spring/summer expectation. But what are your children learning while they are outside? For me once I learned and really mindfully thought about all the skills my child was gaining, we decided playing outside was not just for warm weather. We bundle up, put on our rain gear and just have fun (and LEARN!)
I hope this post helps educate parents and adults, but also encourages you adults to take off your shoes, run though the sprinkler, jump on the trampoline or do some gardening. There is so much evidence below and everyone can grow and learn.
My child likes pink, barbies, twirly dresses and DIRT. Yup, mud pies, cakes, toes, hands feet and all in the DIRT. Many studies have shown dirt to be good for your brain? Apparently, there are types of bacteria that are naturally found in soil which activate the neurons that produce serotonin – a key chemical in many bodily functions. So really DIRT makes people happier, it’s science.
Being in nature helps stimulate the curiosity and creativity of children. Do you know what a dump truck can be used for? Spend 30 minutes and you will see how many tasks that tiny yellow truck can have.
The more we spend outside with my daughter the more I notice her compassion. She is so observant of any part of nature, plants, flowers, animals. But recently she is noticing litter. She get’s really wound up when she sees trash on the ground. She picks it up and is already a tiny environmentalist who is set on not leaving mother earth with crap all around.
Bouncing on a trampoline is more than just for gross motor it increases blood flow to the brain and heightens mental alertness.
Problem solving skills- When my daughter and I were running through this puddle repeatedly she was determining the best path, where we could safely stay dry and where to best splash zone was. She was a leader in this activity guiding me though the rain.
Do you know what happens when you are barefoot? Research indicates that electrons from the Earth have antioxidant effects that can protect your body from inflammation and its many well-documented health consequences. For most of our evolutionary history, humans have had continuous contact with the Earth. Read more here
Green outdoor settings appear to reduce ADHD symptoms in children across a wide range of individual, residential, and case characteristics Said this study.
Playing outside increases flexibility for children (and adults, this wobbly thing is tricky!)
Playing outside can can help protect children against stress, according to a new study by two Cornell University environmental psychologist. Check out the study published in Environment and Behavior.
Parents can use their time to build massive biceps, or at least have fun getting active.
Playing outside has many benefits for the eyes. Recent evidence says children who play outside are less likely to have myopia (nearsighted). Help your child by NOTICING. Point out the pine cone, stick, pretty flower and pretty soon they will be pointing them out to you.
When a child was on a swing they engage core muscles as well as muscles in the hand and arms to hold on. This teaches balance and coordination.
Bikes and scooters that requite balance teach children new skills and self confidence. A bike is something they start off with as a trike and then those skills can grow with them and their confidence also expands. Hold your breath parents because there will be some blood and tears, but they keep on getting back on and then you get to see the smile on their face when they have mastered the skill.