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11 Reasons to Take the Kids Outside

on Tue, 10/15/2013 - 11:10
By: Julia Luckenbill
As a teacher and as a parent, I have discovered this magic:  When the kids are sad or too loud or when fights break out, taking the kids outside seems to fix everything, especially if running water, sand or soil is involved.  At our school when the children spill out into the yard and garden, a sudden calm descends.  At home, in the evening “arsenic hour,” playing on the grass erases our daughter’s distress.  Though parking kids in front of the TV is one way to keep them busy, there are many reasons why sending them out to play is better for their development , especially if you come along and teach them about the plants, animals and natural materials found there.

Here are 11 reasons to take the kids outside:
  • They are calmer outdoors.
  • They do not have to stay quiet and it is ok to sing loud!
  • There is more space for big body play.
  • There is less setup and clean up to be done.
  • The materials (mud, sticks, rocks, flowers, leaves) are free.
  • The mud can be hosed off outside before kids come back inside.
  • Sand and water play lead to an understanding of volume, cause and effect, and use of tools.
  • There is room to invent new ideas and new worlds.
  • They learn nature smarts and learn to love the outdoors.
  • Learning to be gentle with a flower leads to being gentle in other ways.
  • They learn life lessons: All living things hatch, sprout or are born, and all things die.  
A last thought –time spent in nature is good for grownups too. Enjoying a hike or time in the garden can support your own mental health and help you relax and slow down.  Isn’t it time now to turn off your computer and go out to play?

About the Author: Julia Luckenbill, M.A. is a Child Development Demonstration Lecturer at the Center for Child and Family Studies Laboratory School at the University of California, Davis. Her interests include emergent curriculum, farming with toddlers, photography, and exploring the world with her daughter.

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Because I'm going outside! Thanks for the reminders!