In recent years, use of the outdoors has reduced for many young children. A 2016 UK survey found kids today spend half the time their parents did playing outside. A number of factors are thought to contribute, including increased safety concerns and a rapid rise in the use of technology - typically an indoor activity.
In the same survey, 83% of parents questioned thought it was important their children learned to use technology but 96% of them thought it was important their children had a connection with nature and thought playing outdoors was important for their development.
The outdoor environment continues to offer an essential role in children's health, development and well-being. Considerable research shows that outdoor play can offer a wide range of benefits to babies, toddlers and young children.
Opportunities for outdoor play promote physical activity, freedom and movement, and promote a sense of well-being. Playing outdoors provides an opportunity for children learn to assess risk and develop the skills to manage new situations while having fun, whether it's climbing, crouching, rolling or running.
Outdoor play also gives children contact with the natural world and opportunities to develop interests, make observations and become engaged in a diverse range of topics from art to science.
British child psychologist Dr Sam Wass said being outside encouraged children to play in a very different way from being inside with computers or TV, making them use their imagination and creativity more.
At Rotorua Home Based Childcare, we understand the importance and value of safe outdoor experiences for children’s learning and development. Children are intrinsically motivated to learn and as Early Childhood Educators, our job is to notice and support this learning, and to facilitate it through the environment, materials and opportunities we provide.