Now that winter is here, you may want to bundle the kids up and hibernate at home. But did you know that getting outside – even when it’s cold – has many benefits for children? Here are 4 benefits of playing outside.
1. Strengthens the immune system
Ever wondered why people fall sick more often in winter? It’s not because of the cold. The main reason is the germs and viruses circulating in the air. During winter, we tend to stay indoors more – often with the heating on all day. As a result, we end up breathing and re-breathing each other’s germs.
The good news is, you can reduce your chances of catching a bug simply by getting outside. Studies also show that playing outside can strengthen a child’s immune system. All that exposure to fresh air, sunshine, and even dirt help to build up the body’s natural defences.
2. Enables big physical movements
Kids need to stay active no matter what the season is. You can play games like Hot Lava and Twister indoors but nothing beats the physical activity of being outdoors.
Have you seen how kids jump and run or pedal a tricycle in the playground? These large physical movements are important for a child’s gross motor skills. Being able to exercise these key muscle groups supports healthy physical development, plus it’s a lot of fun. Who doesn’t love a good game of tiggy?
3. Makes learning interesting
Winter is a wonderful time to engage in new learning opportunities. Suddenly, the leaves have fallen, the air is colder. All this can be great lessons in science.
Why did this happen? Is the tree dying? Why is it so cold? It’s amazing what the children will ask. Through these immersive experiences, the children learn about the changing seasons, biology, the lifecycle of plants.
The outdoors is also a great way to stimulate the imagination. Red Apple kids love creating winter-themed art like snowflakes and snowmen or making ‘wombat stew’ with sticks and leaves.
4. Encourages problem-solving skills
The world may be a little wetter, colder and more slippery. But these things which may appear ‘messy’ to us, present interesting challenges to children.
If a path is muddy, they will think, “How do I get around this?” If there is a bunch of leaves on the ground, they may think, “What can I do to play with this?”
The changing environment transforms a child’s playground and encourages them to use their creativity to continue having fun. Immersing in the sometimes unpredictable and messy outdoors can also help build a child’s resilience.
At Red Apple, being outdoors is all part of our learning philosophy. So next time your child comes in, remember to pack a warm jacket, beanie and gumboots (if you have them).