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The benefits of outdoor play
Wietske Boon

Nature is a resourceful learning environment. Something we often take for granted and don’t use optimally. Outdoor play is beneficial for each area of child development: physical, cognitive, social and emotional.

Children are exposed to sensory stimulation by being in contact with their direct environment; smelling the flowers, feeling the grass under their feet and hearing the birds sing. This opens children up to new learning experiences.

While children run, climb trees, skip and ride their bicycles, their gross motor skills develop which in turn is important for e.g. sitting still and the ability to concentrate.

Outdoor play is important to develop creative thinking. Children get to create their own games and rules and to build their own constructions by using natural resources.

By collecting stones and leaves, counting and sorting them and ordering it into groups and patterns, children develop mathematical skills spontaneously.

Just by playing outdoor, being physically active and taking part in fantasy play, children get to handle their emotions and learn to cope with difficult situations, they get rid of excess energy and it lower their levels of aggression.

Outdoor play is part of the fundamental building blocks that precede formal learning. Without the skills that they master by playing outdoors, children have difficulty to cope in the formal learning environment.

Besides from learning experiences, outdoor play is fun, it make them feel happy and boost their immune systems which create healthy children. And then they even eat and sleep better.

Wietske Boon, Play therapist, www.childtherapist.co.zawietske@childtherapist.co.za

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