Will Outdoor Activities Make Your Child Smarter?
These days, young people in cities do not have as much direct contact with the natural environment, either because they are being entertained by new technologies inside the home, or because there is simply less nature to go around. Several recent studies have shown that regular, unstructured playtime in the great outdoors makes kids smarter, calmer, more self-disciplined, more cooperative, and happier. Unfortunately, young kids today do not have as many direct experiences with nature and it’s taking a toll on both the minds and bodies of the next generations. Here are a few reasons why getting your child outside may help them perform better in school.
One of the main benefits of kids playing more outside is that it encourages activity. Giving children the space to run around and play not only helps them let off steam and expend pent-up energy, but also works to reduce stress whether they are riding a bike, walking, climbing or digging in the dirt. Playing outside helps children develop through exploring, risk-taking and honing motor skills, and by exercising their muscles and increasing blood flow. You will see the benefits of this activity when your child is able to concentrate better on their homework, and can more easily learn and retain new concepts. For this reason, the great outdoors is one of the most important educational resources for young kids.
The natural world provides an abundance of ways that children can entertain themselves, without confining them to rules and parameters like computer games do. When outside, children have free reign over their environments and can use their imaginations when making up games, exploring new territory or even building things like tree houses. It is this exercise in creativity that expands the minds of young children, making them more confident and exposing them to far greater sources of inspiration.
New Learning Opportunities
Spending time outside is a great way for your child to stumble across new learning opportunities. Going outside after rain will let your child see a rainbow, pick up an earthworm, jump in a puddle and see how water helps things grow. Although there is a lot to be said for classroom learning, there is a lot a child can learn by simply observing the natural world and immersing themselves in it. Letting your child become awed by all the cool things outside will not only encourage their brain to think, but will also get them interested in learning.
Being outside can give children plenty of opportunities to develop basic social skills and competencies such as by pushing each other on the swing, building things together out of materials such as sand and wood, and creating imaginative scenarios together. The great outdoors also encourages socio-dramatic playing in children, as the trees, bushes, ravines and streams are ideal structures that encourage children to change, adapt, reconfigure, and impose their own meaning onto them. When this type of play includes other children, they learn positive social behaviour that will help them later on in life.
Playing outside definitely isn’t a replacement for traditional classroom learning, but instead should be something that can enhance a child’s learning capacity while in school. Lesson plans that include trips outside, as well as playgrounds that encourage imagination at recess time, will go a long way in improving the ability of children to perform well in school.