Playing outdoors is the best place for your preschooler to practice and master emerging physical skills. The outdoors can help children freely and fully experience motor skills such as running, jumping and leaping. Set up an obstacle course with old tires, large appliance boxes, and tree stumps. Moving through it will teach important concepts like over, under, through and around.
Additionally, your child is most likely to burn calories when engaging in outdoor activities, which can help prevent obesity, a heart disease risk factor that has doubled within the past decade. Did you know that outdoor play stimulates the part of the brain that regulates the “biological clock”? Not only is this vital for your preschooler’s immune system but it also attributes to their overall happiness. Who doesn’t want that?
Outdoor play has something more to offer your child than just physical benefits. Cognitive and social/emotional development are impacted too. Whether it’s on the playground or in your very own backyard, children are able to invent games, express themselves and learn about the world in their own way. Your child may think they are only playing to have fun but little do they know they are actually learning!
A "listening" walk makes for a wonderful sound discrimination activity. As you walk with your children, point out the sounds of birds, passing cars, whistling wind, even your footsteps on the sidewalk. What sounds can the children identify on their own? Which are loud and which are soft? Which are high and which are low? What are their favorite sounds? Bring along a tape recorder so the children can try to identify the sounds at a later time!
As you can see, outdoor activities offer unique teaching opportunities for children to learn while having fun. If you’re looking for some new, exciting and educational activities to do with your child, check out our latest blog on fun, family activities for fall!