“Children are born naturalists. They explore the world with all of their senses, experiment in the environment, and communicate their discoveries to those around them.”
– The Audubon Nature Preschool
From expressing creativity, individuality, and imaginative play to running freely, bare-foot to making messes without the worry of dirtying the home… there are numerous reasons little ones benefit from outdoor play. In addition to fun and positive reasons, there are also many health benefits that make outdoor play beneficial for littles. Psychologists believe that a child’s brain develops at a much faster rate when outdoor play is incorporated than for those who play strictly indoors.
Children who play outside learn how to solve real life problems a bit easier than children who stay inside to play video games or intentionally seclude themselves. Regardless of if they’re learning how to get along with friends or trying to figure out the best way to build a fort — they’re problem solving. For example, on a playground not everyone gets to go down the slide first. Going to a playground with your littles is not just about running around and being active, but it’s also about learning social skills, executive functions, and behavioral skills as well through play. Getting outside with your littles may help strengthen the parent/child bond, as well. Nature is a huge stress reliever; it is relaxing, it is healing, and some scientists believe visually focusing on the color green can help decrease little ones’ stress levels.
We can’t underestimate the value of the aesthetic development promoted by being outside. Aesthetic awareness refers to a heightened sensitivity to the beauty around us. Because the natural world is filled with beautiful sights, sounds, and textures, it is the perfect resource for the development of aesthetics in little ones.
Preschoolers learn primarily through their senses. Outside there so many different and wonderful things for them to visually focus on such as animals, birds, and green leafy plants, things to hear: such as the wind rustling through the leaves, a robin’s song, things to smell: fragrant flowers and the rain-soaked ground, things to touch: a fuzzy caterpillar or the bark of a tree, and even things to taste: newly fallen snow or a raindrop on the tongue. Children who spend a lot of time acquiring their experiences through television and computers are using only two senses (hearing and sight), which can seriously affect their perceptual abilities.
So, get outside today! Enrich your own senses and have fun! Remember that outdoor play and being in nature builds up your immune system, provides exercise, stimulates your imagination, promotes problem solving skills, and provides vitamin D. Enjoy the beautiful gifts of mother earth and embrace nature!
“Teaching children about the natural world should be seen as one of the most important events in their lives.”
– Thomas Berry
– Jessica Smith, B.S.