Is there anything more fun in the world than playing? Pure, child-like freedom, where anything is possible and anything goes.
Fresh air and exercise may be going by the wayside for little ones, suggests a new study that found preschoolers in child care centers often don’t get enough outdoor play time. Recent studies also tell us why only indoor play is detrimental to children’s growth.
Researchers who studied more than 380 children, ages 3 to 6, who were enrolled at 30 different child care centers published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, showed that only 3 in 10 children in full-day child care programs got at least 60 minutes of outdoor recess. This implies that nearly two thirds had either very less or no time outdoors at all.
Better learners: Outdoors, a child learns on multiple levels with each new adventure. With all of the imaginary castles, lands, creatures, the brain develops at a much faster rate than for those who play indoors. There are numerous effects.
More social: Not only do they become better learners, and do well in school, but they are more fun to be around (i.e. they make more friends)–and play have active imagination! Consequently, children will be much happier because, hey, they’re smart and they have a lot of friends.
Physical growth: Not only are there mental advantages to playing outside, there are even more physical advantages. Obviously, if a child is playing outside he/she will be way more active than the child that stays indoors. The great thing about this is that it can have long-lasting effects. If you think about this, it makes perfect sense; teach a child when they’re young to love the outdoors and they will love it forever.
Now here’s what the experts say about the disadvantages of indoor play. Researchers have found a disorder called “Nature Deficit Disorder”. Basically, this means that not playing outdoors and with nature (e.g. hiking or camping) is really detrimental for kids. They found that children who lived closer to nature and had more opportunities to be in the natural world were less stressed out with.
They also found that children who had a more natural day-care setting had better motor coordination and could better concentrate/pay attention, back to what we were talking about up top.
Indoor Vs Outdoor: Now right about here some people may argue for indoor play. Doesn’t indoor play promote creativity, lesser risk of injuries, lower risks of exposure to dust etc? Well, yes. But children are missing connecting to nature, the freedom to invent games themselves and interact freely with others.
Some parents may feel that outdoor time takes away from “learning.” But children learn through physical activity, too. Based on previous research, we know that gross motor skills are so important. Kids this age are learning to skip, throw a ball. Those gross motor skills are a really important part of growing up, of their development — just as important as learning their letters and learning about math.
Now some people may be wondering why parents let their kids stay indoors if playing outside is so much better. Some parents are worried about picking up germs outside. Oddly enough, research shows that the air indoors is actually more likely to promote asthma than being outside (Epstein, 2001). For families who live in big cities, it does not seem like there is a choice because parents fear for their kids’ safety. This has become such an issue that the current generation is used to being watched constantly, unlike prior generations.
Outdoor activities are fun and very helpful for children’s development. Indoor activities, though they may be fun, can be detrimental because they do not promote adequate physical and mental growth.
What happens in child care centers has important and lasting effects for children’s total daily levels of activity. The recommended guideline for preschoolers is 120 minutes of physical activity daily.
Majority of preschoolers spend time in day care centers. Playing outside is especially important for children who don’t have active-time at home.