I recently saw a photograph from the 1950’s of prams lined up in the snow with napping babies. It got me thinking about the importance of unstructured outside play for children. I am fortunate that Lexi has always loved playing outdoors. However, these days children are spending most of their free time indoors engaging with technology rather than with each other.
So why should we encourage more play time outdoors?
The obvious answer is that it provides our children with a healthy dose of vitamin D. Particularly in the winter months when we tend to spend more time indoors, no matter the climate we live in.
It improves vision. A study reported by Optometry and Vision Science found that children who spend time outside have better distance vision than those who primarily play indoors.
The exposure to dirt and bacteria builds up their immune system.
It’s great exercise and helps them burn off excess energy. I find that the more time Lexi spends outdoors, the less fuss we have at bedtime. And exercise is a great stress reliever right?!
We have a tiny urban garden and when we first moved in I was very concerned about creating a garden that Lexi would enjoy playing in. One of our greatest investments was a sand and water table that we bought her a few years ago for her birthday. I’ve learnt though, that children don’t need many (or expensive) toys to entertain themselves for hours in the garden.