With all the new technology trends, television shows and video games, it is often a struggle to get your preschooler outdoors and active. It is all too typical to have children who would rather spend hours on the computer than toss a football or do cartwheels on the front lawn. In today’s day and age, many kids are more apt to exercise their minds, but not their bodies.
The blame does not fall solely on the child or his parents, though. Many families lead busy, overscheduled lives that do not leave much time for outdoor activities. In addition, society has shifted toward a less safe outdoor environment. Parents are often reluctant to send their children outside by themselves, and don’t have the free time to supervise.
While these factors may contribute to your decision as a parent whether or not to promote outdoor play, the benefits generally outweigh the peril.
Physical Benefits of Preschool Outdoor Activities
Outdoors is where children will best develop their physical abilities. Motor skills such as balance, jumping, running and leaping are freely performed outside. It is also the most appropriate place for games such as catch, dodge ball and tag to be played, all of which enhance coordination. Preschool outdoor activities usually include climbing, swinging, bouncing and sliding on a playground, giving the students more area to remain in motion.
In addition, outdoor activity is the most effective way for preschoolers to burn calories and avoid childhood obesity. Allowing time for playing outside reduces the risk of heart disease and other obesity-related health issues, such as hypertension and arteriosclerosis. The sun also plays a role in the health of children, as well as adults, as it stimulates the brain and boosts the immune system.
Mental Benefits of Preschool Outdoor Activities
Not only will your preschooler benefit physically from playing outdoors, he will benefit mentally, too. Because students are more likely to use their imaginations to entertain themselves outdoors, they will develop social and cognitive skills. Playing outdoors promotes decision-making, entrepreneurial and leadership skills through the invention of games and the coordination of rules and turns.
Many preschool centers schedule time during the school day for outdoor play and activities. Most facilities are required to provide a safe, entertaining outdoor area for students to play in. This time and space is important to the growth and development of young minds and bodies.