By Manisha Banawal
Think back to when you were a child. Did you crave the outdoors? Did you have a special spot to hide where you could watch without being seen and let your imagination run free? I bet you resisted being called to go back home.
While growing up, the adults in my life – parents, grandparents, teachers and other relatives (plenty of them) – encouraged me to play outside but reluctantly at times. School work was seen to be more important. But along with my friends, outside play is what we lived for, everyday, after school.
Growing up in a more rural setting, outside play was a given. It was the most available form of entertainment and getting to spend time with my friends was a thrill. I loved it! The memories are still vivid.
In hindsight, my parents may not have realised how important outdoor activity was. But research now tells us that outside play in a child’s life is beneficial to a child’s growth.
Today, most of us agree that outside play is a core part of a child’s life. If you still have some doubts, I have ten benefits of outside play to get you thinking.
According to an article by an early childhood expert, Linda McGurk, children who play outside:
- Are physically more active, which helps prevent obesity and all the other health related issues
- Have better motor skills, such as agility, balance and coordination, and are sick less often
- Have higher levels of vitamin D, which in turn strengthens their bones and immune systems
- Eat more fruit and vegetables as a result of learning how to garden and are more likely to keep a healthy lifestyle later in life
- Engage in more imaginative games, interact more and get along better
- Perform better in their school work as they are more attentive
- Are more likely to develop a lifelong love for nature and care to preserve it
- Less likely to engage in bullying when they play in natural environments
- Develop stronger awareness, reasoning and observation skills
- Suffer less nearsightedness and are less likely to need eyeglasses
So next time when you see children chasing each other, squealing with delight building things and exploring their way around, just know that it is good for them.