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The Benefits of Outdoor Play

Outdoor play is an integral part of our student’s day at Good Shepherd. It is also a requirement. We go outside when it is beautiful out and when it is cold (warmly wrapped up) or even when it’s snowy as in the photos.

Studies demonstrate that children spend less time outdoors than in years past and this is leading to deficits in multiple developmental areas.

The freedom to play outdoors is priceless. Simply being outside in the fresh air and in nature is crucial for the senses and for mental well-being. Literally, taking the time to smell the roses, watch a bird fly, listen to fall leaves rustle and crunch or feel the cold air on your skin feeds the soul and develops our senses. More and more, we are also learning about the importance of taking the time to notice/be in the moment which helps us to de-stress. Since children are experiencing anxiety and stress at younger ages it is essential that they get outside. Last year, while gardening, some 3 year olds delighted in digging up worms!

The exercise benefit of outdoor play does not require explanation. Ultimately, getting children into the habit of exercise will help them to maintain good habits throughout their life.

Outdoor active play provides children an invaluable platform for using their imaginations, relating in unique and differing ways, using their muscles, taking risks, and most importantly self-entertaining. Outdoor activity can be completely unstructured and offer them the opportunity to use their executive functions, practice spatial relationships, play cooperatively, make decisions, and solve problems, the list could go on and on.

Outdoor play is freedom. A much needed sensation and opportunity given our children’s often tightly scheduled lives.

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