Australia offers children a unique and wondrous environment for children to play and explore and connect with nature.
It is in the outdoors children can master their emerging physical skills by fully and freely fine-tuning their gross motor skills. They can run, leap, jump, skip, roll, hop and do other physical activities which indoor play doesn’t allow because of space or other restrictions (such as making a mess!).
Children are naturally drawn to physically-active play outdoors. It is fun and exciting, but more importantly, it provides a great form of exercise that promotes wellbeing as well as physical development.
How children benefit from outdoor play
• Climbing, running, jumping, skipping and other physical activities help to develop gross motor skills, balance, hand-eye coordination and concentration
• Increases their flexibility and develops muscle strength
• Promotes social and emotional development – children are more likely to invent games and express themselves as they learn about the world they live in (in their own way)
• Builds self-confidence and helps to develop social skills, particularly when playing with other children or in organised sports
• Allows them to connect with the natural world – there are endless opportunities for creativity and imagination
• Exercise is proven to help improve children’s emotional health, allowing for calmness and a heightened sense of wellbeing
Outdoor play in early learning
In early learning environments such as day care and kindergarten, outdoor play gives educators an opportunity to use nature to introduce children to concepts such as problem-solving, language, science and caring for the environment.
Outdoor play offers endless opportunities for discovery as nature is always changing.
Activities such as bush kindy and nature walks are becoming more popular as children are being encouraged to explore nature and participate in outdoor play to build their social competence and confidence, while learning how to be safe.
So, while it might just look like they’re having fun, they’re also learning too.
Outdoor activity ideas for parents
• Nature walk
• Obstacle course
• A ‘listening walk’
• Parachute games using an old sheet
• Chasing bubbles
• Water painting (paint the side of a house or a tree using a bucket of water and a large paint brush)
• Having fun with sustainability – composting, gardening, worm farms
• Looking for shapes in the clouds
• Water play
Article supplied by Goodstart Early Learning. There are several Queensland Goodstart centres that offer Bush Kindy and Nature Walk Programs. To find your nearest centre click here.