The iconic image of the idyllic American childhood was, not so long ago, based around the idea of spending long summer days playing outside and exploring the neighborhood until the streetlights were illuminated. Today’s fear-driven culture might make it difficult to send your kids outside for the entirety of a day in good conscience without supervision, but that doesn’t mean that they have to be relegated to a lifetime of staring blankly at a television screen, playing video games or cooped up in a community center to stay safe. When safe, sane practices are adhered to, time spent playing outside is not only fun, but also essential to your child’s healthy development and growth. These are ten of the reasons why you might want to think twice before discouraging outdoor play, and how spending time outside is actually good for your kids.
- Honing Motor Skills – Kids need to run, jump, swing and tumble in order to hone their basic motor skills, something that just isn’t as easy to do in the restrictive confines of structured, indoor play. Even if your child isn’t able to safely roam the neighborhood with a group of his friends, he still needs plenty of outdoor time to push himself physically so that he’s able to refine those skills.
- Vitamin D Absorption – While it’s imperative that kids are properly protected from the sun’s burning and potentially cancer-causing rays, it’s also important that they get 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure in order to fight off vitamin D deficiency. Unlike vitamin D in supplement form, it’s impossible for a child to naturally produce too much vitamin D in response to sunlight, so letting your child play outside for even a few minutes is typically the best course of action when it comes to combating deficiency.
- Encouraging Imaginative Play – Playing with the same set of toys in the same room every day doesn’t give your child much room for imaginative, creative play, which is essential to both cognitive and social development. The great outdoors, however, offers an almost endless array of inspiration for invented games and make-believe scenarios.
- Acquiring an Appreciation for Nature – Kids who rarely spend time outdoors grow into adults who generally don’t spend much time outdoors, causing them to effectively miss out on all that nature has to offer. Encouraging play that takes place outdoors allows your child to become accustomed to and gain an appreciation for nature, and no television show or Internet video can replicate that.
- Learning the Importance of Environmental Stewardship – The children of today are the stewards of tomorrow’s environment, and they need to learn the importance of caring for the planet from an early age. Get your kids outside and talk about the environment and all the ways that it needs to be protected while enjoying the great outdoors. Before you know it, you’ll have an active, eco-conscious youngster in the making.
- Expending Energy – Shouting, climbing, jumping and running aren’t encouraged indoors. In fact, these activities that are so necessary when it comes to expending energy and blowing off steam are usually downright forbidden inside the house. Letting your child burn off some of that energy outside has benefits for both of you, as well as any fragile belongings in your home.
- Exploring and Investigating – Kids need to encounter new and interesting things to keep the spark of natural curiosity burning, because that curiosity is an essential part of both creative thinking and a thirst for learning. There’s not much to explore between the couch and the refrigerator, but your own back yard can be a veritable goldmine of activity and wonder.
- Pushing Boundaries and Taking Safe Risks – No parent wants their child to engage in risky behavior, but safe risks are an essential part of learning and confidence building. Kids who push their own boundaries by testing their abilities are more confident, more active and less likely to suffer from the low self-esteem that plagues so many of today’s youth.
- Reducing Exposure to Germs – There’s a reason why colds and flus seem so abundant in the winter time. When stifled in rooms with little fresh air and relegated to close quarters with others, germs spread from host to host with ease. Outside, airborne bacteria can be swept away on a light breeze, rather than finding a new home in your child’s body.
- Fulfilling Kids’ Need for Freedom – As a parent, your first instinct is to keep your child as close and as safe as possible. While it is your job to ensure that no harm comes to them, it’s also important that you allow them enough freedom to explore and assert a bit of independence. Letting your kids roam the lawn, even if it’s fenced in and you’re standing on the porch, or play on the playground while you’re sitting on a nearby bench, can fulfill a bit of that need for freedom that’s so important to their growth and development.
Foods High in Vitamin D
Our Sports Techie community blog gratitude goes out to Molly Cunningham and Liveinnanny.com for these ten well-intended reasons kids need to play outdoors.
Sports Techie, The first paragraph says it best; kid’s need to learn how to unplug from the arsenal of digital devices at their disposal such as the TV, smartphones or tablets, and gaming consoles like the new Xbox One and PS4, and find the time to go outside even after hours of indoor childcare so they can grow up understanding the benefits of activity in the great outdoors.
Vitamin D is a tricky subject in that most of today’s food whether that be for a baby, infant or toddler, in addition to younger kids and teenagers, has been fortified to the point where over 100 percent of the daily requirements are easily met. Additionally, using the sun as source of vitamin D has never been more dangerous in the history of humans because of global warming and the depleted ozone layer. Be sure to have your children wear sunscreen, long sleeved clothing and SPF hats before they go out and soak in too many rays onto their delicate skin. I sense that the sun’s vitamin D is far superior for providing a health boost than getting it in a powdered form. There are foods that have Vitamin D such as many types of fish, eggs and some mushrooms. The right combination is a power backed boost to your child’s energy level, immune system and bones.
Playing outside and running on a trail or in the snow is heaven sent, all you have to do is observe the fun and excitement youth have with experiencing outdoor activities. Spatial recognition is developed outdoors because of the wide openness and the freedom to image unlike when inside closed corridors of a building. Sports Techie encourages kids to play mindgames of chess or sing musical songs if you are forced inside by circumstances such as a lack of adult supervision, bad weather or time issues, otherwise, what you can do outside as an activity is your best bet for sure.
When our baby is old enough, he will become a regular like his Mom and I are with visiting Discovery Park and Golden Gardens in Seattle. Not only does Discover Park have the best oxygen content in the entire city because of the amount of trees concentrated in one location, it also has its share of forest trails and beach play opportunities, along with a Native American culture center full of the history of the people and land which we respect and honor to the fullest.
Next time you are out and about with your son or daughter, pull over at the next park and push them on the swing set, explore the ecosystem together, and do your part by each picking up three pieces of litter. If the entire global Sports Techie community does this every day possible, we will live in a better world that our children can be proud to be a part of while they enjoy the health benefits of outdoor activities.
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