How Outdoor Play Benefits Children

outdoor playground benefits

Are you making the most of your school’s playground area? With the continuing rise of technology, it is even more important to balance indoor play with outdoor play. Nowadays, children are spending one quarter as long playing outside as their parents did just one generation ago!

Outdoor play introduces children to a new learning environment and increases exercise. With growing childhood obesity rates, anything that we can do to inspire children to enjoy time outdoors is to be encouraged.

Most schools do have playgrounds, but not all schools are making the most of these crucial play spaces, as teachers have confirmed in a study conducted by Learning Through Landscapes –

“97% of teachers believed that schools needed to use their outside spaces effectively to enhance their pupils’ development, 82% did not agree that their own school was making as much use as it can of this valuable resource”
Learning Through Landscapes (2010) Research showing the benefits of outdoor play

With so many ingenious outdoor products available, school playground spaces can be a magical environment to engage and inspire young minds, as well as get their bodies moving! From outdoor kitchens and den making to play houses and water play supplies, there are so many resources that early years children can enjoy in the great outdoors!

We all know that fresh air is good for us, but spending time outside also allows us to generate vitamin D which helps fight infection and keeps our skin healthy. Sunlight also helps to regulate the production of melatonin which regulates sleep.

However, we must be mindful of too much sun! Therefore, by adding some essential playground shade, we can enjoy as much time outdoors as we like. If you add a playground shelter that is also waterproof, then the rain won’t stop the children’s play either! Playground canopies are available in all shapes and sizes, colourful Umbrellas, Tepees, Shade Sails and brightly coloured polycarbonate roofed canopies. Children can experience exciting outdoor lessons underneath them, as well as enjoy sitting underneath them at break times  no matter what the weather has in store!

Ofsted are in agreement that time outside for children is of huge benefit to pupils –

“When planned and implemented well, learning outside the classroom contributed significantly to raising standards and improving pupils’ personal, social and emotional development”
Ofsted (2008) Learning outside the classroom. How far should you go?

Early Years children have a great deal of energy! So if they can run some of their energy off outside, then they are increasingly able to concentrate when they get back in to the classroom. Anything that we can do to extend their learning opportunities outside gives children new experiences and new stimulus. With a bit of careful thought and planning, you can create an outdoor playground area to be proud of, which offers necessary shelter and a wide range of stimulating outdoor learning resources to enhance a child’s development and learning.

This article has been written by Ruth Smith at A&S Landscape.

A&S Landscape specialise in school canopies and playground shelters. With more than 40 years’ experience helping schools transform their outdoor areas, they can offer advice on style, design and installation.

outdoor play resources

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