Do your kids spend more time on their screens than they do playing outside? If you're like me, your answer is an easy yes. It's just SO easy to keep them busy and entertained with a video game or tablet, right?
I'm sure you see the posts on Facebook all the time, the ones with quotes about how much different "our" childhoods were. Riding bikes, playing outside until the streetlights came on, getting dirty! Sure, things were a lot different back then, safer and that type of play was plain normal. Nowadays it's a bit harder to tell your kids to go play outside when they wake up and come home in time for dinner.
However, just a few hours of outdoor play each day -- even just in the backyard -- has so many benefits and should be encouraged way more than unproductive screen-time. Here's why:
Playing outdoor makes for physically healthier children. Playing in the sun gives children an abundant amount of vitamin D, which builds stronger bones decreases the likelihood of chronic diseases. Depending on where you live (like us in Ohio where it's always cloudy), vitamin D deficiencies can be very common and can lead to health problems, both mentally and physically.
Being in the sunshine helps kids stay happy and healthy. According to Sanford Health, outdoor light stimulates the pineal gland, the part of the brain that's vital to keeping immune systems strong and making minds happier. Spending time outside is greatly associated with improving mood and happiness. Fresh air is also an almost instant stress reliever!
Outdoor play contributes to cognitive, social, and emotional development. Playing outside helps kids learn all the basics, like how to take turns, share, and stay safe, constantly developing positive behavior skills. During outdoor adventures, kids tend to be inventive as they explore the world around them. Whether they're playing alone or with siblings and friends, types of outdoor play improves communication, cooperation, and organizational skills.
Here are some fun and free ways to PLAY outside:
- Draw with homemade sidewalk chalk
- Bring your dolls outside to play
- Make your own bird feeder and enjoy watching the creatures who visit your backyard
- Put on your rollerskates and roll up and down your driveway and sidewalk
- Plant a garden in mini pots and place them around your home
- Set up a tent and camp out in your yard
- Get crafty and work on homemade projects to welcome the sunshine
What ways do your kids like to play outdoors?