The Value of Outdoor Play

Play looks different than table work. At the table, learning is sometimes stiffled. If invitations to learn are overly directed by the teacher or a parent, exploration for creative thinking and problem solving get buried by the tasks at hand.

Outdoor play allows children to imagine and explore. How many times have you been rushing to the car, only to have your young one discover a roly-poly? They are telling you, in that moment, that the world is a beautiful place. They are telling you to slow down and marvel at the tiniest of delights.

Do you garden? Teaching children how to garden is such a gift and there is such great science involved. Just letting them dig in the dirt, allows them to take in musty smells, feel dirt between their fingers and maybe, if they are lucky, they will find a worm.

Do your children like to paint? Let them paint colorful rocks to go in the garden. If you want garden markers to go with their rocks, let me know. I am happy to create them for you! Below is a custom set of 14 stones, all veggies. Your children can place them in the garden with the rocks they paint.

Perhaps your children need the time to unwind in the sand box and create a structure. Maybe a walk around the neighborhood provides an opportunity to collect treasures! The following picture was shared in a group I follow and I am not the owner, but I think it shows what is possible, just in picking up sticks!

Outdoor play allows children to practice life skills. Really! You will see children practicing determination when they successfully learn to climb the ladder to the slide and come down “all by themselves.” You see hard work when they practice over and over the art of “pumping” when on the swing. Outside, you may find they practice and learn about teamwork and communication as they volley a ball back and forth. Children, naturally and instinctively, are setting goals, without verbalizing it. Internally, they are learning to master skills through persistence, and grit. They are learning to accomplish new challenges. The smiles they share show they are owning their accomplishments.

A worthy goal for all who parent and teach young children should be to celebrate and embrace all the lessons found outdoors. These lessons are necessary as children grow. Go outside and catch your breath..or a roly poly. You will be glad you did.

Have a happy day.

CK

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