When we think back to our childhood, we recall fond memories of playing outside, often with siblings or friends and often engaging in pretend or imaginative play. These memories stick with us for a reason as outdoor play really is crucial to child development. Maybe we learned something while we were playing, maybe the sights and smells of the outdoors engraved memories in our psyche, or maybe the rush of adrenaline instantly increased our mood as we ran across the warm grass. Whatever it was that provoked these fond memories, for many children, the way they understand and experience nature today has changed radically. Richard Louv refers to this as nature-deficit disorder, explaining the reduction of exposure to nature in today’s wired generation.
The Benefits of Outdoor Play
- Imagination sparks brain development. Being outdoors is an automatic invitation to creativity and imaginative play. A puddle of mud becomes an alligator infested swamp that you need to jump over and a bush becomes a secret hideout for spies. Indoor play offers some free and independent thought and imagination if provided the right toys, but its typically stationary and less active, which is a key element to outdoor play. This use of imagination creates better learners who also have the added bonus of being super fun to be around.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” — Albert Einstein
Continue reading more benefits in the full article on the Envirokidz blog.
Photo Credit: Happy child in puddles