The school year officially ends for us next Friday, but I know that a lot of my friends around the country are already enjoying summer break with their kids. The school year can be busy and not leave much time for free play when the kids are at home. I don’t know about you, but the kids are exhausted and hungry at the end of a school day, and all they want is to rest and have a snack before digging in to their homework. Then it’s dinner time and bed time, and the routine starts all over again.
Summer time means longer days, brighter nights, and temperatures that invite kids to be outside, whether it’s playing at the park, taking a cool, shaded nature walk, or swimming at our neighborhood pool.
My kids love the outdoors. They loved being outside when they were little, and they still love it now that they’re bigger. When they were little, and still today, I encourage as much outside play as possible. It keeps them off the electronics, the house stays cleaner, and they are more tired by the end of the day (believe me, that’s a huge plus during the summer!). Little do kids know that playing outdoors can be beneficial to their development. In fact, here are five skills that your child can build while playing outdoors.
While playing outside, especially at a park, your child will likely encounter other kids. This is a great time to help build social skills, as they make new friends. However, with every childhood friendship come arguments over whose turn it is. Learning to settle disagreements and learning to be fair is all part of building social skills that will help kids later in life.
Critical Thinking Skills
Critical thinking is all about planning things in the moment and creating strategy. What better way to practice this than while playing sports? While running down the field and kicking a soccer ball, your little one will be using their brain to think about their next move.
Gross Motor Skills
Outdoor play can involve so much more movement than what your children may be able to do inside. While outside, children will have plenty of space for all sorts of activities from running across the yard, to skipping down the sidewalk. But there are so many more fun things that cannot take place indoors. For instance, climbing trees, or even using their legs to pump themselves on the swing set.
Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor skills can easily be tuned inside, however there are also many outdoor activities that help as well. Digging through a rock garden can provide excitement for little ones as they search for the shiniest or smoothest rock, but grasping those tiny pebbles is great for fine motor skills.
Self confidence can easily be built while playing outside, whether at the park, or in your backyard. As children play on their own, they may find they are becoming more sure of themselves, as they step out of their comfort zone, and finally go down the slide alone or climb that perfect tree.
Playing outside is such an essential part of any childhood. Whether it’s free play or organized play, your child will benefit from playing outside. What’s better than building critical skills while having fun?
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