The Joys and Benefits of Nature Play for Children

Baby Goes Retro

Nature Play
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Raising children and assuring that they grow to their maximum potential in both mind and body is every parents aim and desire. However, with so many different opinions out there, figuring out the right choices can be difficult. Nature play is debatably an important part of children’s life. Numerous studies have proven the immense benefits of outdoor play for children. As a matter of fact, nature play could be just as important if not more than actual education for your children. The benefits range on an entire spectrum, from physical development to emotional well-being and their mental enhancement. Here we describe the many ways that outdoor play can benefit your children.

Physical benefits of outdoor play

Recent studies have highlighted the importance of unstructured nature play in a childhoods life. A Scottish study also emphasized how children who played outdoors in their kindergarten years were less susceptible to illnesses and had better physical development. This is because, nature exposes the child to the many bacteria and pathogens around him. At a young age, the children develop rapid immunity to these disease causing pathogens, which helps avoid the potentially severe consequences later on.

Although you may worry about these germs at the start, doctors state that there are actually more germs indoors than outdoors. Plus, there is a multitude of hypersensitivities that could develop in your child if he does not have an adequate functioning immune system. One study states the significantly higher levels of asthma in children who are kept indoors most of the time. What’s more, the sun and the healthy air serve as great aids for the growth of the child. The sun’s rays help provide the vitamin D for the child and the fresh air keeps the blood and lungs working at optimum.

Furthermore, studies have suggested that children who stay at home or play indoors are more likely to gain weight and shift towards obesity as compared with children who are involved in nature play. One factor that could be held responsible is the exercise that comes along with outdoor play. Playing in nature means that the child will run about, explore and enjoy a great deal of exercise. All of which will help his metabolism speed up and strengthen his muscles. According to a study, these physical benefits of outdoor play help your children grow in the long run.

Mental benefits of outdoor play

Playing in the natural environment where the child has to use his own imagination and will to enjoy himself helps broaden his perspectives and enhances his imaginative capabilities as well. Studies suggest that children who play outdoors develop their mental skills at several levels. With limited things to play with, the kids draw their imaginary castles, learn to compete and interact with others. Furthermore, these qualities help instill better learning capabilities in your child at school. Also, his social appearance and approachability is enhanced, which churns his personality in to an attractive and welcoming shape. Your kids will always have that mingling, welcoming and sharing compassion, that lack in children who are mostly left indoors to themselves.

Emotional benefits of Nature play

A child can have a lot of emotions cooped up in his brain and heart that could be overwhelming. We have often heard our mothers and grandmothers suggesting a trip to the park, to deal with the child’s tantrums or rebellious behavior. The fact is that children like adults can get worked up living in a similar surrounding. Outdoor play offers them a good opportunity to work off their hormones and stress in constructive play. This helps settle their brain and put things in perspective. A child who has regular outdoor playtime is far likely to be emotionally stable and responsible than one who spends all his time playing video games.

We all know how nature calms our senses and helps us to deal with our problems better. It has always acted as the stress reliever and calm inducer in our lives. The soft breeze and the healthy aroma of nature and life around us help calm down blood pressure, relax your senses and slows our fast-paced lives into some solitary pleasant moments. Similarly, nature works its miracles for children also and numerous studies have backed this beneficial emotional effect of nature on children.

Clearly, there are a great many benefits of outdoor play for children. It significantly outruns indoor play time and contributes hugely to the growth and development of your child. It may be easier to have your child indoors, playing with a screen, but you need to consider the long-term hazards and effects of these limited activities. Outdoor play allows your child’s body and mind to embrace its surroundings and mature optimally. Nature play needs to be a part of every child’s life. There is no replacement for the emotional, mental and physical benefit it provides.

References:

Epstein, B. (2001). Childhood asthma and indoor allergens: The classroom may be a culprit. The Journal of School Nursing, 17 (5), 253-257.

Burdette, H., & Whitaker, R. (2005). Resurrecting Free Play in Young Children. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med., 159, 46-50. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.159.1.46

Wells, N., & Evans, G.(2003). Nearby Nature: A Buffer of Life Stress Among Rural Children. Environment and Behavior, 35, 311-330. doi:10.1177/0013916503035003001

Wells, N. (2000). At Home With Nature: Effects of “Greenness” on Children’s Cognitive Functioning. Environment and Behavior, 32, 775-795. doi:10.1177/00139160021972793

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