Outside play is important for children and adults too! Going outside to jump, yell, run, and use their large muscles help to work off extra energy. Children should spend 60-90 minutes of outdoor physical play each day. Many parents were taught that being outside in the cold would cause a person to become sick and catch a cold. In reality, it’s not the exposure to the cold that causes these viruses, but the increased exposure to poorly ventilated indoor environments where bacteria and viruses live. Playing outside allows children to escape the indoor germs and bacteria.
There are many benefits to outdoor play:
Outdoor play encourages the use of the whole body by running, jumping and exercising different muscle groups. Through riding tricycles, swinging and running children increase their large muscles and build gross motor development. It is important that children continue to stay active in cooler months to build emerging skills that are crucial to their physical development.
Through outdoor play in winter months, children build self-confidence and the ability to assess risks, such as deciding to use slippery surfaces and wet play equipment. Through winter play children learn to explore, cooperate and endless problem-solving opportunities.
Outdoor play provides many social opportunities and encourages social development and collaboration. Play teaches children to work together in groups, giving opportunities for sharing, negotiating, and solving conflicts. Outdoors, children have the opportunity to stretch their imaginations and in the winter the physical changes of the space allow children to engage in socio-dramatic play and winter-themed games and activities.
It is important to dress appropriately for cold weather.
Layers: Dressing your child in layers helps to keep their body heat close to them. They can play for long periods of time and it is easier to add or remove a layer of clothing as needed; think a base layer, a middle layer, and an outer layer.
Mittens, gloves or hats may be needed in extra cold weather to keep fingers and hands warm. Include your child in picking out a hat to ensure comfort and often if they help to pick it out they may want to wear it more often.
Boots will help to keep feet warm and dry.
Written by Anne Q., Pre-K Master Teacher