Outdoor play is an important component of child development. Letting kids be kids and allowing them the rite of passage of unstructured outdoor play with their peers is nearing a point of extinction. Technology, stranger danger, bullying, and environmental factors are a few of the reasons that the days of “go outside and play” and “be home by dinner / before dark” are bygone. Times have changed but children’s innate need for unsupervised play and connecting to nature has not.
Here’s an interesting article that includes several links discussing that outdoor play habits versus indoor play have changed worldwide over the last several decades.
“Children have fewer opportunities to engage with nature. Providing more contact with nature can enhance children’s creativity, boost their mood, lower stress, improve well-being, promote physical activity and improve attention spans.
Nature play is also becoming more important as a counterbalance to children’s technological saturation. It is important for children to connect with nature early, as they are then likely to learn to appreciate nature into adulthood.”
At AZ+A, play is the cornerstone of treatment for children with an array of developmental, learning and emotional challenges. Whenever possible, we enjoy time with kids in our courtyard. While it is supervised outdoor play, it’s our goal to let the child or children take the lead and be there to support emotions, sensory experiences, and social interactions as needed. It is a joy to witness the growth when imagination, pretend play, and connection with nature occurs. There isn’t an easy answer to reverse the worldwide trajectory of children’s play but one by one, we can fill their lungs with fresh air, commit to outdoor playtime, and let the sunshine in!