Guest Blog Post: by Emily Wragg
Can you remember your favourite outdoor place to play as a child, the place where you felt most free and at ease to do things your own way, with no rules and restrictions on how to have fun? For me it was the joy of my grandad’s garden, where we could string up hammocks, paint on war stripes, climb trees and make dens together.
Those are the memories I will keep with me for the rest of my life.
Now think, do you enable your child to experience the same level or nature as you did?
Or if you didn’t enjoy outdoor play as much when you were a child, do you now provide everything possible to ensure your own child can enjoy it to its full potential.
Outdoors is the perfect opportunity for your child to have the freedom to run around, shout, get messy and explore an ever changing and natural environment. Click To TweetThe benefits for outdoor play are endless for both babies and young children, enabling them to develop their gross and fine motor skills, which in turn will help them with everyday activities such as using a knife and fork and gain experiences through all their senses. Other benefits may include;
- Problem solving skills
- Increased Balance
- Increased Creativity
- Higher Imagination
- Deeper Focus
- More Awareness
- Social skills
- Increased mental wellbeing
- Greater self esteem
- Deeper sleep
- Increased curiosity
A study called ‘The relationship Between Daytime Exposure to Light and Night-time Sleep in Infants’ showed that young babies sleep better at night when they have experienced fresh air and sunshine during the day.
Giving children the time to have a go and take risks may seem daunting at first, and I imagine all of us want nothing more to protect our children from harm and danger, but giving children the chance to find out for themselves what their own capabilities are, will help them understand risks and danger. Tripping over, gaining grazes, minor cuts and bruises as well as getting dirty, give children the chance to gain confidence in what they can and can’t do.
Not everyone has access to long stretches of green grasses, parks or woodland on their doorsteps, but even a small piece of space out the house can be used in a variety of ways to create new and fun experiences for your child. Many ideas can be very simple but effective, for example when I was younger I thought it was incredibly fascinating to wash the patio with a hose pipe and then brush it clean with a sweeping brush!
Here are some ideas on outdoor play for both big spaces and little spaces, many of which were firm favourites of mine when I was growing up;
- Hunt for bugs (maybe even create little houses for them too)
- Play in a sandpit (with hands, cups, scoops, spades, anything!)
- Paint rocks
- Chalk drawing on the floor
- Mud play (with anything)
- Climb trees
- Make dens (with blankets/old sheets)
- Hang up a hammock (enjoy story time in a new way)
- Feed the birds (why not make your own bird food)
- Roll balls/toy cars down plastic pipe
- Throw/catch a ball
- Ride a bike
- Make a ‘potion’ or ‘perfume’
- Paint puddles
- Make leaf pictures
- Play hide/seek or tag
- Make up a tune or song after listening to birds
- Watch the clouds and try to make shapes/pictures with them
The fun doesn’t have to stop when you have finished playing, make the memories last even longer by collecting things and bringing them inside. Your child and you can paint them, keep them in a jar or box or even use them for arts and crafts.Letting your child keep some of the things they have found and turn them into something new will remind them of the wonderful adventures they had outside with you or with their friends. Click To Tweet
There are endless possibilities, ideas and opportunities for playing outdoors, use your imagination and let your child lead the play and you will be amazed what you will find. There is no wrong way to play, just remember to relax, be free with your child and most importantly have fun!
A Guest Blog Post by: Emily Wragg, Qualified Nursery Practitioner, Children’s House Nursery, Southwell, Nottinghamshire
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