As a child, I remember playing outside constantly; my affinity for outdoor play was so extreme that I would often declare my new home in some tree and my dad was forced to climb up and pull me out of the tree for dinner.
As an adult, I have come to the realization that the majority of our adult life is spent inside and this often translates to our kids. We, parents, keep our kids indoors all day because we have a fear of the outdoors.
Media and news networks make outdoor play for children seem so dangerous that many parents do not even let their children play in the backyard. This is such a shame because outdoor and natural play is so important for cognitive development. According to a study published in the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, “Exposure to greenness might influence focused attention, rather than hyperactivity-impulsivity.” Not only can play in natural environments help your child sleep better but it can also help children focus attention, which can be monumental in classroom settings.
A study published in the Early Childhood Education Journal states that outdoor play has a multitude of benefits including: increased creative thought, play, learning, spatial reasoning, motor abilities, and decreased illness. With the number of benefits outweighing the risks, it is amazing that outdoor play is insignificant.
Since I am acquainted with the research on outdoor play, I emphasize at least an hour of outdoor play in the morning and an hour of outdoor play in the afternoon for my child.
In an effort to be encouraging, try to find time to get outside! It will it benefit our children and it will also benefit us as parents, with a better likelihood of longer hours of deep sleep.
Dadvand, P., Tischer, C., Estarlich, M., Llop, S., Dalmau-Bueno, A., López-Vicente, M., & Sunyer, J. (2017). Lifelong residential exposure to green space and attention: A population-based prospective study. Environmental Health Perspectives, 125, 1-8. doi: 10.1289/EHP694
Fjortoft, I. (2001). The natural environment as a playground for children: The impact of outdoor play activities in pre-primary school children. Early Childhood Education Journal, 29(2). 111-118.