Playing outdoors in winter promotes physical development and well-being. This is because outdoor play encourages the use of the whole body by offering a safe space to run, jump, and exercise key muscle groups. Through activities such as riding tricycles, swinging, and running, children increase their large muscle use.
It is essential that young children get frequent and regular opportunities to explore and learn in the outdoor environment.
Here are some powerful arguments for taking every opportunity to take young children beyond their immediate indoor environment;
- Learning outside the classroom supports the development of healthy and active lifestyles by offering children opportunities for physical activity, freedom and movement, and promoting a sense of well-being.
- Learning outside the classroom gives children contact with the natural world and offers them experiences that are unique to outdoors, such as direct contact with the weather and the seasons.
- Playing and learning outside also helps children to understand and respect nature, the environment and the interdependence of humans, animals, plants, and lifecycles.
- Outdoor play also supports children’s problem-solving skills and nurtures their creativity, as well as providing rich opportunities for their developing imagination, inventiveness and resourcefulness.
- Children need an outdoor environment that can provide them with space, both upwards and outwards, and places to explore, experiment, discover, be active and healthy, and to develop their physical capabilities.
- The outdoor environment offers space and therefore is particularly important to those children who learn best through active movement. Very young children learn predominately through their sensory and physical experiences which supports brain development and the creation of neural networks.
- For many children, playing outdoors at their early years setting may be the only opportunity they have to play safely and freely while they learn to assess risk and develop the skills to manage new situations
As parents, we often worry about our children playing outside, will they get a cold? Will they hurt themselves? But we need to weigh up the benefits against the risk.
Finding a safe outdoor space for them to explore is key. Try finding a local woodland, forest or nature reserve which offers a safe space for them to explore and be creative.
Written by Charlotte Roberson,
Outdoor Education Hub Manager