It is of utmost importance that kids are allowed to be kids, given their right to roam freely, shout, jump, hop and run. The outdoors is the perfect environment to support a child’s growing need to explore and develop, and to support their growth and thirst for knowledge and novelty.
Kids, especially those of younger ages, require opportunities that present them with the chance to fine-tune their gross motor skills through the use of their entire bodies. By being presented with such challenges, kids can then move on to master fine motor skills, for example, using a fork, holding a pencil, etc.
Thus, such play helps children develop in many ways, impacting them for a long duration of time, and rewarding them with positive habits that have the potential to remain with them for life.
Fresh Air and Motor Skills
Exposure to fresh air and natural light helps kids to have a more restful sleep, bettering the child (and parent and/or caregiver’s) mood, especially if the child is particularly grumpy and moody. Being outdoors presents children with the opportunity to exercise and get their little bodies moving, providing for an overall feel-good factor.
Physical play can be practiced through the use of climbing toys and/or swings, and funny electric toys, such as electronically powered tricycles, etc. They can be used on grassy, hilly areas, giving kids the chance to lie, crawl, roll and run. Older children can use toys like electric scooters, electric wagons, bikes, and balls, whilst younger ones may opt for toys such as crawling tunnels, small slides, and battery-powered swings.
It is important that wobbly toddlers are allowed to practice on hilly areas, so as to provide them with a chance to fine-tune their balance. Aside for the need to present children with an opportunity to fine-tune micro-motor skills and to develop their gross motor skills, it is also important to help them in their brain development and specific nerve functions in order to support their growth. This can be done by encouraging them to partake in activities that will get them crawling, rolling, climbing, running and swinging.
Nature is the Best Teacher
By taking a child on a nature walk, the child is given an opportunity to appreciate the natural environment, and to have their senses engaged. Playing inquisitive games, such as asking them to tell about and describe what they can see, hear, touch, and smell in the environment becomes like a scientific experiment, and is an opportunity for comparison and experimentation.
Old tires, empty boxes of varying sizes, tree stumps, etc. can serve to teach concepts such as ‘over’, ‘under’, ‘above’, ‘beyond’, ‘through’, ‘in’, ‘out’, among others. Items such as a voice recorder, on which a child can record sounds of varying types as they deem fit, can help them discriminate between the intensity and nature of different sounds; the sounds of the wind, of cars passing by, and of footsteps nearby. Such a game can turn into a guessing game as the children take turns to try and identify individual sounds, figuring out which stand out the most to them.
Using items such as a parachute or old sheets and foam balls, whilst playing music on a portable player, will instigate make-belief play and get children to dance their hearts out to the melody – both natural and played. Making and blowing bubbles, using an automatic and handheld bubble-blowing machine, can provide endless fun. As does adding some water paint to the soapy solution and letting them paint to their heart’s content.