Playing outside is a great way for kids to get exercise, spend time with friends, and take a break from screens. But, did you realize that playing outdoors isn't only fun, it's also important for cognitive development? Outdoor play can be incredibly beneficial when it comes to developing young brains. Letting kids play outside can help them to do better in school, extracurricular activities, and socializing —especially if a child struggles with learning, behavior, or attention. Here are five of the most important ways outdoor play enhances cognitive development.
1. Outdoor Play Stimulates Multiple Senses
When a child is playing outside, there are elements that can stimulate multiple senses at once: sounds of nature and cars going by, smells of fresh flowers and leaves, the sight of the sun or animals running by, and more. Outdoor play immerses your child in a multisensory world, which can help engage and sharpen all of the senses that are stimulated.
2. Outdoor Play Helps Sharpen Attention and Increase Attention Span
When children are allowed to spend unstructured playtime outdoors, they can be self-directed about how they spend their time. They can come up with activities that engage them and keep them engrossed, which can help them increase the amount of time they are able to pay attention to one task or activity.
3. Outdoor Play Decreases Stress
Kids who play outside can experience the natural, physiological benefits of spending time in fresh air and sunshine. One of the most important benefits is stress reduction, which can help reduce the level of stress hormones in the brain and body to ensure healthy functioning and development.
4. Outdoor Play Improves Executive Function
Experts at Harvard have discovered that outdoor play improves executive function in kids. This means that it helps them get better at planning, prioritization, troubleshooting, multitasking, and negotiating.
5. Outdoor Play Improves Spatial Knowledge
better remember and understand larger environments when they spend time playing outside. If you schedule outdoor playtime for your child, they have a greater chance of knowing their home-school routine, feel confident about traveling independently, and develop better wayfinding skills.
Get in Touch with Brain Balance Achievement Centers
The importance of outdoor play can't be overstated. If you want to help nurture your child's brain and ensure they're having fun while you do it, make sure you schedule some free time outside.
If you want even more help guiding your child's cognitive development, reach out to your local Brain Balance Achievement Center. For over a decade, we’ve helped over 40,000 children improve the critical skills needed to create a brighter path for their future. Our team can help determine why your child struggles, then help equip them to better handle their own challenges, so they can enjoy and thrive in family gatherings, classrooms, social events, and more.