The line between our work life and personal life has been blurred tremendously over the last decade or so. In our race to provide financial security to our family, especially to our kids, a 9-to-6 job no more ends at 6 but rather eats into our so-called ‘family time’. While this affects our health and personal well-being, it also impacts our precious play time with our children.
During our childhood, we as kids playing outside was a normal phenomenon, indulging in outdoor sports or going for a stroll every evening to the nearby park with our mom and dad was always looked forward to.
Today, as working parents, we do not have the time to continue this ritual with our kids. Living in a nuclear family makes it all the more difficult to let kids go out and play while ensuring they are safe and sound under adult supervision. The easy access to electronic and digital content has become ‘the’ option for parents to keep their kids busy with something while they get busy completing their never-ending office or household work.
Playing outdoors should be a vital part of every kid’s early development. It is a wonderful way to learn various life skills, a great chance for kids to flourish, run, jump, make a mess, explore their self in natural surroundings. Therefore, it is important for parents to play a conscious and proactive role in developing a positive outlook toward outdoor games or sports among kids.
Benefits of kids playing outside:
1. Great source of learning:
Playing outdoor games can be a brilliant way to enhance learning ability in kids. They may learn important life lessons and skills, develop a problem-solving attitude, get to explore nature, acquire new information and an elementary understanding of science. Moreover, it is learning done through play which can be the best form of learning.
2. Leads to healthy physical development:
Outdoor play keeps kids active and provides a means to increase their physical stamina and fitness, strengthen their muscles and bones, build immunity, lower the risk of many diseases like diabetes, heart problems, obesity and promote overall better health. Being in the fresh air and sunshine can naturally provide them with the essential vitamin D whose deficiency may cause rickets.
Being exposed to electronic gadgets for long durations can impair a kid’s vision. Active involvement in sports also means getting into the routine of having a healthy lifestyle from a very young age. This makes exercise and fitness a way of life, rather than having to go through the struggle of getting fit later on in life.
3. Inculcates sportsman spirit:
They develop sportsmanship and understand early that winning and losing are part of the game and develop a positive outlook towards life as well. There is nothing like dealing with a sore loser at home, which might be the case if your little one is pampered and allowed to play at home all the time.
Every sport has a certain goal, and the players work towards achieving it. Your little one will learn to apply this principle in a real-life situation too and work towards having a goal and working towards achieving it.
Another benefit of playing outdoor is that it nurtures team spirit in children. In order to win a game, it is important to work as a team and your child will learn early to appreciate the contribution of each member of the team. This skill will also come handy later in life and make her a natural leader.
4. Develops personality:
Outdoor play aids in positively developing the personality of a kid. They learn to be independent and self-reliant. They learn to deal with situations on their own, handle emergencies, negotiate setbacks and unfamiliar conditions, sans adult supervision which may instill confidence and make them better equipped to tackle life situations later on. Also, children playing outdoors tend to develop a positive attitude and have a calmer and happier disposition. Also, outdoor play provides a great opportunity to channelize a kid’s natural energy in a meaningful way.
5. Boosts creativity:
Indulging in outdoor games can inspire a kid’s creativity. Being in the open natural surroundings can stimulate a child’s imagination and may stir up a lot of artistic and inventive ideas in him.
6. Helps to acquire social skills:
Kids may learn to interact effectively with others while playing outside in contrast to those who remain indoors and often stay isolated and withdrawn. They may be forced to give up their shells, approach different children, make new friends, take turns to play without adult supervision thereby acquiring social and communication skills in the bargain.
7. Improves attention span:
Playing outdoor games helps to improve the mental faculties of kids. It aids in expanding their attention span, improves their concentration and focus, intensifies their observational and reasoning skills. Kids with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) have also shown remarkable progress in their attention spans while playing outdoors.
8. Attain motor skills:
Engaging in outdoor games can help kids develop their gross and fine motor skills. They achieve better agility, coordination, and balance.
9. Builds self-esteem:
Active involvement in sports teaches your little one to build positive self-esteem as it teaches her to feel good about her accomplishments and stay strong in the face of adversity.
10. Inculcates love for nature:
Kids playing outside or those who spend considerable time outdoors may be more inclined to establish a lifelong bond with nature. They may become conscious of environmental issues like global warming, deforestation, animal conservation and take steps for preserving nature.
How to encourage your kids to play outside?
1. Choose a safe kid-friendly play area:
If you have a backyard or stay in a building with a big compound, chances are that is where your kids will play. Ensure that area is clear from any dangerous debris or any other things that may harm your child. If you take your children to a park, stay close enough to keep an eye on them, yet far enough to let them play, explore or just enjoy on their own.
2. Provide engaging play tools:
Depending on where your child’s interests lay, provide tools to help further their play. For instance, if your child loves digging, buying him a spade, bucket, etc. will make him want to go to the beach more. Buy a hula hoop, magnifying glass, roller skates, skipping rope, toy scooter, beach ball or any other play tools that your kids will want to show to the world and play with.
3. Outdoor activities with family:
Take your family bonding time outside. Go bicycling together on the weekends, go to a neighborhood kids’ entertainment area, or take your children to a vacation spot filled with outdoor activities. Making family bonding a compulsory outdoor activity will make the outdoors part of a great fun routine in your kid’s mind thereby ensuring that they will never regard playing outside a chore.
4. Enroll your child in outdoor training classes:
Sign up your children for sports camp, cricket or football classes, badminton or tennis classes, swimming classes, gymnastics, skating classes, etc. Not only will good coaching help develop sporting skills, but such training and coaching will also boost your child’s interest in sports. It will help your child become more active and energetic motivating him to head outdoors to use and burn that energy.
5. Invite friends to play:
Ask some of your child’s friends over, or hang out with your friends who have children. Play games together, ranging from hide and seek, catch and dodge ball to hop skip and jump. You can even make up a sports tournament for fun involving either entire families or just kids. Competitiveness and the urge to win will be foremost in their minds, encouraging them to go outdoors and practice playing the included games.
6. Follow sports events:
Make the sports channel an important fixture of your family life. Encourage your children to follow and watch sporting events and educate them about sporting legends. Rafael Nadal, Sachin Tendulkar, etc. are great role models for your children. Take them for some sporting events like cricket or football games. Rooting for their teams, celebrating when they win, etc., creates a buzz among your children and they will want to emulate the players and will spend hours practicing it.
Disadvantages of kids playing outdoors:
Excess of everything can be bad. Likewise, too much playing outdoor games may not be such a great idea. Some of the likely disadvantages of outdoor games can be:
1. Sometimes kids tend to neglect their studies while indulging in excessive outdoor activities. It is important that the kids devote sufficient time to academics as well.
2. At times a kid may overexert himself due to his love for playing outdoors leading to physical strain and other health issues.
3. Kids playing outside without adult supervision may give rise to concerns about kid’s safety and likely injuries while playing.
4. Parents may like to give special attention to the fact that outdoor games should promote every form of play.
While it is important for you to understand the benefits of kids playing outside, it is equally important to explain the importance of outdoor sports to your child. Spin outdoor activities in a way that your child will look forward to it.
Most children dislike studying. Therefore, you can provide outdoor activities as a break to studying. Explain to them the health disadvantages of electronic entertainment to help them make informed decisions about their play activity.
Want to get some more tips to make your kids interested in playing outdoor games? Watch the below video