What Your Child’s Teacher Wants You to Know About Outdoor Play: Part 1

With back-to-school schedules, getting outside to play suddenly drops in our priority lists. By the time we’re done with school snacks and homework, we feel like we don’t have time for outdoor play anymore!

outdoor play - child looking out at mountains

Two early childhood professionals explain the importance of getting outside, what parents should know, and why it’s worth it.

Megan Brown, a preschool teacher in Cincinnati, said that it’s hard to think of areas of development not strengthened by outdoor play. It’s not just the physical development. But “what’s more surprising to parents are the social/emotional benefits that children are missing.”

These benefits include problem solving, taking initiative and analyzing risks, reduced anxiety, and an appreciation for nature and their environment.

Cary McKay, professor at California State University, Bakersfield, echoes this sentiment. She emphasizes the importance of outdoor play as building more than just physical development. She wants parents to appreciate that “the complicated and always changing nature of outdoor play has profound implications for their child’s future.”

These profound implications are the very formation of children’s brains. Outdoor challenges build numerous brain connections, and in faster and longer lasting ways. These help improve problem solving, awareness, and anticipation and planning.

Getting outdoors, even if for just a few minutes a day, provides vast benefits to children, and their homework!