The Importance of Outdoor Play for Preschoolers
It’s easy to keep your child entertained by simply plopping them in front of a television screen, but outdoor play can provide your child with so many enriching opportunities that they can’t get from staying indoors. Playing outdoors is a good way to allow your child to explore the environment and let their imagination run wild. Your child has more room and freedom to be active and make big movements such as running, jumping, and throwing.1 These types of physical activities are beneficial for health, fitness, and physical development.1 Outdoor play is also good for enhancing your child’s mental well-being.2
Safety Concerns with Outdoor Play
As a parent, it’s natural to worry about your child. Some common concerns with outdoor play include weather changes and watching your child get hurt. However, cold or rainy weather shouldn’t deter your child from playing outside, as it can also spark their sense of imagination and creativity.1 It’s also common to worry that playing in cold weather can lead to nasty colds, but children are more likely to get sick in poorly ventilated indoor environments.2 Going outside can expose your child to vitamin D and fresh air, which helps ward off potential viruses.2 Just make sure that you are dressing your child appropriately for the weather by having them wear gloves, jackets, rainboots, and hats when needed.
It can be scary to think about all the ways your child could get hurt when playing outside, but the occasional cuts and bruises are all a normal part of the experience. Having your child get hurt from risky play can also serve as learning experiences, as they can learn from their mistakes and keep going.1 Risky play experiences can help your child understand their limits and think for themselves.1 Some risky activities, such as tree climbing, can offer opportunities to use gross motor skills, which is an important part of development. Serious injuries are very rare, but it doesn’t hurt to keep an occasional eye on your child’s activities to be sure that they’re ok.2
Outdoor Activities to Try
Now that you know about the benefits of outdoor activities, here are some fun things you can try with your preschooler:
Children love helping out, and gardening is a calming task that can keep your little one busy.1 Allow your child to leave their mark in the garden by showing them how to pull weeds and water flowers or vegetables. This can also be a fun and rewarding bonding experience.
Riding Bikes & Scooters
Biking and riding scooters can be especially fun during warmer months. If your child doesn’t know how to ride a bike, now is the time to teach them how! Riding a bike is a useful skill and is a great way to get some exercise. Make sure your preschooler is ready to take their training wheels off before trying to teach them.
Walks in Nature
Canada is filled with wonderful nature sights, and the best way to take advantage of them is to see them in person. Accompany your child on a stroll through a forest or a nearby park to let them experience nature for themselves. Nature is also a great place for sensory development, as there are plenty of sights and smells to enjoy in the wild.
Playdates are more fun when they’re outside! Invite your preschooler’s classmates and friends over for an exciting day of outdoor activities. Warmer days call for water balloon fights, chalk-drawing, and hide and seek, while cold winter days are the best times for snowball fights, snow angels, and sledding. Outdoor games mean more mess, and what’s more fun than getting a little messy!
After a long day of playing outside, it’s time for your preschooler to fuel their appetites with a healthy snack. Serve up their favorite snacks along with Enfagrow A+ nutritional drink for kids to support their developing brain and growing body.