With parents clearing their Annual Leave and older siblings enjoying the year-end holidays before the new school year, young children are given more opportunities to run around and explore the outdoors. Whether you’re taking an overseas vacation, paying a visit to the beaches of Sentosa, or popping by the playground at your neighbourhood park, exposing your preschooler to outdoor play is important for their overall development.
Outdoor play has dozens of benefits for preschoolers and young children, namely through strengthening their cognitive, motor, emotional, and social skills. Being outdoors is also beneficial for their health as they get ample exposure to fresh air, sunlight (vitamin D), and varied environments – all of which strengthens their eyesight and overall immunity.
Here are three more benefits of outdoor play for toddlers and preschoolers:
1. Strengthens gross and fine motor skills
What really sets outdoor play apart from indoor activities is its hands-on nature.
Being able to run, climb, hide, and jump helps your child learn gross and fine motor skills such as hand-eye coordination, agility, and dexterity. Exploring new environments also encourages their curiosity and sense of adventure, especially if given the chance to roam freely (within safe boundaries and with adult supervision).
The best part is that you do not need to rely on specific activities to achieve any of these outcomes either! Open-ended activities (e.g. running freely around the park with friends) and close-ended activities (e.g. going through a pre-determined adventure course) each develop your child’s motor skills in their own unique way. Discover more outdoor play experiences you can enjoy with your child.
2. Introduces cognitive concepts
Outdoor play lets you introduce concepts related to mathematics, science, or languages in an engaging, interactive, and multi-sensory way. By taking learning out of the classroom and making learning fun, you’re also encouraging a lifelong love of learning. For example:
- Mathematics: During water play at a water park scoop up water in differently sized containers to introduce them to mass and volume.
- Science: At a beach, observe wet patches or puddles drying up to introduce the water cycle.
- Languages: When exploring zoos, aquariums, or natural habitats, introduce the name of the animals you see in more than one language (e.g. English and your Mother Tongue).
Many subjects or topics will also naturally overlap in an outdoor environment, allowing your child to better understand how different subjects interrelate to each other.
3. Builds social and interpersonal skills
Another important aspect of outdoor play is the social component. Being at an outdoor playground or child-friendly space gives your child a chance to meet children of similar ages or interests in a fun and safe setting. Through playing together, skills such as sharing and negotiating boundaries naturally arise.
4. Hones independence and self-regulation
At the same time, your child is also building up their own self-regulation skills and learning how to take safe, measured risks during outdoor play. Outdoor environments are great for encouraging risk-taking in young children, such as through climbing over walls, navigating a playground on their own, or estimating if they can jump over puddles in a nature trail.
Ensure your Child’s Holistic Learning with MindChamps
The importance of outdoor play – and play in general – to early childhood development cannot be overstated. Even though your child may look like they’re just having fun running around outdoors, their brain is actually working overtime to create new neural pathways, improve neural connections, and develop key competencies for the future.
Bring out the Champion Mindset in your child even more by enrolling them in our award-winning nursery and preschool programmes in Singapore. From daily programmes to holiday workshops, our classes use a holistic and multi-sensory approach to learning based on the S.M.I.L.E.S. methodology.