To achieve optimum emotional, physical and spiritual health for our children we need to turf them outside to play and learn in an unstructured way on a regular basis. Why?
Spending time outdoors does SIX critical things for our children:
- It combats obesity – even just one or two hours a week will help.
- It’s a great destresser. Little children can get just as stressed as us. Down time is as important to them as it is to us. Periods of quiet reflection outdoors recharges little bodies and minds making them more capable and focussed during times of formal learning, be it at home, pre-school or primary school. And sometimes we need to get them out of our hair! Mother Nature can be a good circuit breaker when tempers get frayed.
- Develops fine and gross motor skills – (jumping, climbing, skipping, picking flowers etc) and provides lessons on the senses and various concepts such as literacy and numeracy, time and the cycle and web of life.
- Helps imagination and creativity – Imaginative play is essential for brain development and has been linked to improving IQ. Spending time outdoors grows smarter children.
- Provides unstructured play which encourages resilience, independence and self-confidence – it lessens the likelihood of learned helplessness. That is, if we do everything for our children and over-structure their play it can result in an overreliance on others to provide their entertainment and this diminishes their capacity to independently learn. The child who suffers from learned helplessness will always rely on others, or turn to others, for solutions which can result in poor social skills and low self-esteem. They will not become future leaders nor will they manage the school yard as effectively as they could. They could become more prone to bullying or become bullies themselves.
- Gives them an early understanding of the environment and their place within it. This helps with understanding complex issues of climate change and teaches them about food, medicinal and shelter sources. This is critical given they are the future custodians of our planet.
“Nature does nothing uselessly“. Aristotle