Monday, May 27, 2024
FamilyThe Toddler Times

The importance of outdoor play for kids of all ages

These days we are reliant on electronic devices more than ever before

They control our homes in ways we never thought possible. We can turn our lights on remotely, add to our shopping lists by simply asking a machine and we can see who is at the front door by looking at our phone (I know, witchcraft!).

Our kids are being brought up with all these gadgets, which is great, don’t get me wrong. But, at the same time we must be careful not to become too reliant on them.

I admit I am the worst offender for being attached to my mobile phone. My kids both have Amazon Fire Kids tablets and they are lifesavers in many respects. However, we are in danger of becoming reliant on them and not venturing out of the house as much as we should.

This is why outdoor play is so important

We have two children, a toddler and a 7 year old, and play for each is very different. 

Early years play is where it all begins for the toddler and it develops into primary years play then secondary years play. 

My oldest goes to the same primary school I attended a billionty years ago. It is very different now. In the old days it was all girls playing hopscotch and boys playing football. Thankfully times have changed. Genders are encouraged to play together. The football pitch playground markings have been replaced infavour of multicourt markings. 

The school recognises the importance of children getting outside and playing. They have a teacher (who is, in fact, my sons class teacher) who is dedicated to making sure there is something for every child to do outside. That children integrate with different groups rather than staying with their usual peer group.

Children are encouraged to play outside at each playtime

Simple tree climbing!

The old regime of each year group playing separately have gone, now they are encouraged to play together. Children of all ages (from year two upwards) can play on the playground, in the wooded areas or on the top field and can move freely between them. They all have a spare pair of wellies or trainers to change into so the classrooms don’t get muddy. I think it is just fantastic.

My toddler is starting the pre school my eldest attended

Even that has changed in the last 4 years too. They have ditched plastic toys in favour of wooden ones and have a fabulous selection of outdoor play equipment. When we had our introductory session recently he spent the whole time outside! I am really looking forward to him developing his love for outdoor play there.

The thing is, children need to develop all sorts of skills

There is nothing wrong with electronic devices. In fact it is important that children are familiar with them. They are the future and they will be using them even more than we do.

It would be unfair to deprive them of those skills in years to come. Plus they are lifesavers for tired parents who just want a cup of tea in peace. But at the same time we must not forget that kids need to get outside in the fresh air, climb, play sports, run around, build dens and so on. It just needs a decent balance.

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