Playing outdoors with friends or classmates is a cherished memory for many – but did you know that outdoor play can help with everything from social and motor skills to sleep? Check out the benefits of outdoor play to see why playgrounds are such an important part of children’s early years.

1. Outdoor Play Improves Social Skills

Playing outdoors with their peers allows children to develop crucial social skills. These skills include:

  • Taking turns
  • Dealing with disappointment
  • Working together
  • Inventing games and setting goals
  • Role-playing and pretend play
  • Developing self-confidence

Many of us have fond memories of playing on the playground with friends as children. However, many don’t realize what a crucial impact those experiences had on our social skills and ability to collaborate.

2. Outdoor Play Provides Healthy Physical Activity

Children need at least 60 minutes of age-appropriate exercise each day. However, with the excitement of smartphones, computers, and TV, helping kids get the exercise they need can be a difficult task.

Playgrounds provide a fun and exciting way for children to get the exercise they need. Plus, they can provide both strength-related and cardiovascular activities for a balanced exercise session.

3. Outdoor Play Teaches Safe Risk-Taking

The playground is a place where children can find thrills and excitement in a controlled environment. That makes it one of the best places for them to learn about safe risk-taking and practice good decision making. It’s also why providing a playground with age-appropriate elements is so crucial.

Whether it’s learning how high they can go on the swings, how far they can get on the monkey bars, or how fast they can run, the benefits of outdoor play can’t be understated.

4. Outdoor Play Aids Motor Skill Development

It’s no surprise that outdoor play (and specifically time spent on the playground) is fantastic for both gross and fine motor skill development. Playing on the different elements can help with strength, balance, coordination, and more.

Playground activities that improve gross motor skills include:

  • Swinging on swings
  • Going down slides
  • Walking on both stationary and moving platforms
  • Using seesaws and rockers

Playground activities that improve fine motor skills include:

  • Gripping ladder rungs while climbing
  • Doing the monkey bars
  • Holding onto a swing while swinging
  • Closing buttons, zippers, etc. while getting dressed for outdoor play

5. Outdoor Play Encourages a Love of Nature

One of the often overlooked benefits of outdoor play is that it fosters a lifelong love of nature and the outdoors. It helps children build the confidence to explore, go on adventures, and try new things. And, for many children, it serves as a primer for sports and other outdoor activities at a later age.

6. Outdoor Play Can Help Children Sleep Better

Did you know that encouraging your child to play outside more could even improve their sleep habits? Studies have shown that screen time and outdoor play both affect sleep significantly, and that an increase in outdoor play correlated with longer sleep duration.

Experts speculate that this is because the exposure to sunlight helps regulate kids’ Circadian rhythms, causing them to fall asleep sooner and stay asleep longer – music to parents’ ears!

While children enjoy their time playing outdoors, it’s adults’ job to keep them safe. Check out our sun safety tips for the playground to get started.