The Importance of Outdoor Play for Kids

Did you know American children ages 2 to 5 spend an average of more than two hours per day in front of electronic devices such as phones, computers, television, and tablets? While we can’t escape looking at screens, it’s important for families to combat a sedentary lifestyle by spending time moving and playing outdoors. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting screen time for children in that age group to no more than one hour per day of high-quality programming. 

Encouraging children to spend more time outdoors and away from screens has physical, mental, and social-emotional benefits. From exploring jungle gyms on the playground to engaging in structured games with peers, there are endless ways for kids to have fun, learn, and reap the developmental benefits of outside play. Here’s some more information on why outdoor play matters and how a high-quality daycare program can ensure children receive it.

4 Benefits of Outside Play for Children 

1. Promotes Physical Wellness 

Sun exposure helps form vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus from food to develop strong bones and teeth. Kids who get enough vitamin D may have a lower risk of developing diseases such as osteoporosis, rickets, and diabetes later in life. Sunlight also helps the body fight infections by boosting expressions of hundreds of genes that help to regulate immune function. Moreover, recent studies have shown that vitamin D may play a role in preventing other health problems such as respiratory infections, cancer, and heart disease.

How do we help kids get outside? Ducklings has a proprietary curriculum that guarantees students receive fresh air and room to run around in several outdoor play centers. We also have extracurriculars available for older children like yoga and soccer so kids can spend even more time outdoors and discover new passions. 

2. Improves Executive Functioning

By encouraging children to make their own decisions through guided outdoor exploration, childcare educators can help young students develop their executive functions such as working memory, mental flexibility, and self-control. For example, Ducklings Early Learning Center’s daycare curriculum integrates outdoor playtime with multi-sensory activities designed to foster lifelong learning and creative growth. 

Children can learn how to process incoming information using their five senses, learn how to adhere to game and activity rules, and come up with creative ideas and solutions. Additionally, kids can begin learning about how they are responsible for their own actions through cause and effect during activities.

3. Boosts Social Skills

Playing outside, especially in a school setting where children are naturally around their peers, is a great way for kids to practice their conversational skills and cultivate relationships. There are ample opportunities for them to develop and practice language and communication skills by playing games, participating in group activities, or even by learning how to use and share playground equipment. 

Educators can facilitate group projects such as gardening, having a picnic, designating time for learning games like “Green Light, Red Light”, and making group crafts from natural materials. These types of activities help students learn how to voice their interests and needs to one another, cooperate, and resolve conflict. 

4. Enhances Motor Skills & Muscle Strength  

Outdoor play is crucial for the development of children’s fine and gross motor skills. It helps them to refine their movements, engage their muscles, and become more aware of their body and physical space. Additionally, outdoor play provides opportunities for kids to explore their surroundings and navigate different terrain. This enhances their coordination and balance, as well as their overall physical fitness. 

Hands-on activities such as building structures with natural materials, playing catch, riding bikes, and climbing jungle gyms are great ways for young children to advance their strength, coordination, and balance. 

Enroll in Ducklings Early Learning Today

If you’re searching for a high-quality daycare near Philadelphia, turn to Ducklings Early Learning Center. Children can look forward to fun, themed enrichment activities, plentiful outdoor playtime, and socialization with their peers. Our highly-trained teachers encourage children to explore the world around them with a focus on mind, body, heart, and family. Families can rest assured that students are engaged in an age-appropriate daycare curriculum in a safe, compassionate environment. 
For more information on specific daycare center locations, visit our Locations page or get in touch with our office.