Outdoor Play – How Important Is It?

by Abi Stewart of BigGameHunters.co.uk

I think there is one thing we can agree on, and that is children love to play. From a very early age, children learn, develop and grow through playing.

Parents have many concerns when it comes to their children playing outside. One worry can be the weather – too cold and you worry they may get ill and too hot and you worry about the possibilities of heat stroke or sunburn.

Another concern is the safety of your child – not everyone has the luxury of an enclosed garden and worry that unless constantly supervised something may happen to your child. A lot of people assume that crime and anti-social behaviour is everywhere and in some cases and some areas this may be a more prominent problem.

Many people strongly believe that despite the risks, the benefits of outdoor play are greater. When playing, children learn physical and social boundaries. They explore the world in an imaginative way which improves development of skills which are essential later on in adult life.

Have you ever watched children play a role play game? You may notice that each child takes on a role and creates situations which could be likened to those that we experience as adults.

Another important thing to consider is that when we were children and our parents and grandparents were children, we would play outside more than children do today – but our society is no more dangerous now than it was then. It is how we view the danger to our children in the outside world, forgetting how important being outside was to us when we were younger.

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation published a book addressing the problem entitled, ‘No Fear – Growing up in a risk averse society’. The book argues that children are being held back by the increase in risk aversion which limits movement and growth in both imaginative and physical worlds.

Aside from the social, mental and educational benefits to play, there is also the most obvious benefit – improved health.

Some parents today can be in denial about the weight of their children. In a survey done last year ¾ of parents who had obese children thought their children were fine and didn’t recognise the problem. It is a problem that is increasing, and with that the effects could be passed on through generations if it is not stopped quickly. Eating healthily is always important – but when it comes to children an active lifestyle create an extremely healthy appetite. It isn’t about putting your children on diets, it is about giving them a good balance of proteins, fruit and veg and carbohydrates.

There is nothing wrong with the trip to the chip shop or takeaway on a Friday night if your child has worked up the appetite for it. Not only does exercise and a balanced diet prevent obesity, it also improves general wellbeing.

In short, I would say that outdoor play is very important so we should encourage it as much as we possibly can.

About The Author: Abbi Stewart is one of the play experts at Big Game Hunters. Specialising in outdoor play, Big Game Hunters is an online shop which sells a wide range of toys, games and play equipment. Spending the majority of her time creating and developing ways to play and entertain the whole family, Abbi has become a voice on the internet for all things play related. Having just recently launched a new climbing frame website, safety in play has become a very important subject. You can contact Abbi at abbi@biggamehunters.co.uk or visit Big Game Hunter’s Climbing Frame Shop at  www.climbingframes.com.

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