Brain Benefits of Outdoor Play
Outdoor play is not only beneficial, but also crucial for the brain's healthy development. Researchers say that the frontal cortex, which is responsible for controlling emotions and problem solving, is activated during playtime. The experience of playing forces the brain to make those neurotransmitter connections that are critical to a child's development. Imaginative play and child development go hand in hand.
During independent play, with little structure or rules, children solve complex social and emotional problems with little outside assistance. The children are the ones who will need to make the critical decisions for what they feel the rules and parameters should be for their games or activities, which in turn improves children's negotiating and social skills. These skills are especially important for children with processing or developmental disorders, as their brains need more practice wiring these routes to achieve successful social interactions.
Body Benefits of Outdoor Play
Childhood obesity is a growing concern, so what better way to combat this issue than through fun, healthy outdoor play? Through the simple act of playing, children are running, jumping, climbing, squatting, and rolling. Exerting their bodies is a form of fun, informal exercise.
For children with special needs, outdoor play is especially critical in core muscle development, small motor skill refinement, and increasing coordination. Children need to navigate obstacles, maintain appropriate space around other children, and use their strength to throw, catch, manipulate objects or tackle a jungle gym. Many children with special needs are also vitamin D deficient, and natural exposure to sunshine can help boost a child's immune system.
When you tell your child to "Go outside and play", you're not just getting him or her out of the house and out of your hair. You're also promoting healthy brain development, as well as a good workout for your child's body.