Children playing on a wooden climbing frame

Playing Outside: Why It’s So Important for Kids Nowadays

June 5, 2020

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We all know that fresh air and getting outdoors is good for our health. It’s even more important for kids, especially those living in towns and cities. Being stuck indoors, playing video games or watching TV is okay on a wet and windy day when there’s nothing else to do, but there is no substitute for a bit of outdoor fun. Wickey is focused on helping people transform outdoor spaces like gardens with a range of climbing frames, sandpits and swings that make getting out into the garden a lot more fun. They know how creating the right environment can make a big difference to playtime. 

Lets take a look at the benefits of playing outside and how developing an engaging, interesting and fun space for your kids can make a huge difference. 

The Benefits of Getting The Kids Outdoors

A wooden climbing frame sitting on play bark

Older parents and grandparents will have noticed that there is a noticeable difference between children today and those of yesteryear. Back in the 70s and 80s, kids spent a good part of the day outside, especially during the summer holidays. 

A combination of more people living in cities who have a lack of garden space, the rise of home entertainment such as video games and some other concerns over safety have all made activities in the house more popular. Most parents, however, understand that playing outside is important and want to do all they can to ensure their kids get their fair share. 

Getting Some Sun

You must protect your child from the effects of UV rays and use a good, strong sunscreen. That goes without saying. But regular exposure to sunlight also has other benefits for children and adults alike. 

First of all, the majority of Vitamin D we need to function healthily is provided by the sun outside. Forget your supplements, just ten minutes out in the fresh air on a sunny afternoon can give you all the vitamin D dose that you need for the day. The vitamin itself is involved in a whole range of different body functions from bone development to boosting the immune system. 

Exposure to the sun and natural light also plays a role in promoting a sense of mental wellbeing and has been shown to improve sleep for those who suffer from insomnia. A garden or park which is surrounded by plants and wildlife is one of the healthiest places to be. 

A child going down a red slide

Physical Exercise

Kids run around and play in all sorts of environments. Stick them outside, however, and they are likely to enjoy play more even if they complain beforehand. Indoors kids are prone to sitting down and doing more cognitive activities such as drawing or some other craft. It’s more sedentary and less good for the overall health.

Letting the kids outside means they are using every muscle and joint in their bodies and getting valuable exercise. It not only improves physical health but boosts brain function. 

Cognitive Function

Play of all sorts has valuable benefits for kids. Games and activities, particularly in a group, help to improve social interaction and communication skills, build confidence and even develop all sorts of fine motor skills. 

Outdoor play also allows kids to be creative and that can have a huge impact on their sense of wellbeing and health.

A close up of a wooden climbing frame rock wall

How to Get Out More 

Getting outdoors is one of the cheapest ways to have some fun. A trip to the park is free and there’s plenty to do once you get there. 

Whether it’s kicking around a football, playing on scooters or organising a scavenger hunt for a bunch of kids, all you need is a little imagination and a few props. A trip to the country is a great way to not only get more exercise but learn about various flora and fauna such as butterflies, bees and flowers. 

Kids that are used to spending their time indoors can be a little reticent, of course. Making outdoor play the rule rather than the exception will, however, make a big difference and get your kid into the right kind of habit. 

Once kids discover what fun it is to play outdoors, the more likely they are to want to do it even more, whether that’s getting out in the garden or visiting a nearby beach. 

How to Create a Great Outdoor Space for Your Kids

If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, creating an engaging space is important if you want the kids to get out and play more. There are a few things that you need to bear in mind when doing this:

A teenager sitting on a wooden climbing frame

You want it to be active

That means you want there to be plenty to do that engages kids, whether that’s putting in a sandpit or setting up swing sets. Enabling them to climb, swing, dig etc. As well as making up fun obstacle courses/races with siblings and friends.

Don’t be afraid to get messy

Let’s face it, love to get messy and, if you let them play outside, it’s unavoidable. While this can be an inconvenience if you’re a busy mum or dad, it’s something that you should allow and embrace. Adding in a mud kitchen, letting them draw with chalk on the patio or colour the house bricks etc. will encourage their messy, creative fun.

Make it sensory

Try to include a whole variety of things that have different textures, shapes and sizes, particularly for much younger children. This includes brightly coloured pebbles, seedpods, bubbles and grassy surfaces to name just a few. 

A telescope accessory on a wooden climbing frame

Make it creative

Giving your kids creative activities isn’t just about setting up a painting or drawing station in your home. It means giving your kids problems to solve or adding music to the day’s activity, in fact, anything that allows them to explore their creative side. 

Using Imagination

It’s possible to create all sorts of different worlds for your kids in the garden. You might want to help them build a play scene with different plants, pebbles and bits from around the home, for example. You may want to develop their love of exploration with climbing frames. Kids have a great capacity to create amazing worlds and you should find every chance to encourage this in your garden setup. 

Let them learn new skills

Giving your kids the chance to learn new things is important. One example is gardening, give them a patch of garden to plant so they can nurture flowers or vegetables and herbs. A bug garden is also an easy way for them to learn about all sorts of creepy crawlies. 

Children playing on a wooden climbing frame sitting on play bark

Even if you live in a big town or city, which most of us do nowadays, it’s not that difficult to find outdoor spaces for kids to play in.

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