Benefits of Outdoor Play For Teenager
Due to the myriad of benefits of children’s outdoor play and time, there is increasing concern over its decline. Specifically there has been a rapid decrease in ‘playtime’ in the preteen years. The preteen years are generally considered to be from 9 – 12 years of age.
While the benefits of play in younger children is generally understood, there seems to be a push in the preteen years away from ‘play’ and towards structured physical activity, combined with a push towards greater screen use.
Unstructured physical activity in this age group still has benefits beyond physical health. In America it is estimated that children in this age group are spending just 7 minutes a day in outdoor unstructured activities.
Unstructured physical activity during the day helps children sleep better at night. It can increase concentration and improve mood the next day, but it is still critical in providing opportunities to help engage with others while having fun and not purely focused on a specific outcome such as formal group activities, including competitive spots.
Outdoor play helps children grow socially, helping them to develop healthy ways of forming friendships, responding to physical interaction, and using their imaginations to entertain each other. It helps them solve problems, build relationships within their peer group and gain a respect for nature, most of the studies agree that kids who play outside are smarter, happier, more attentive, and less anxious than kids who spend more time indoors.
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• It builds confidence - There are infinite ways that children of this age group can interact with outdoor environments, from the backyard to the park to the local walking hiking trail. Children of this age can begin to plan how they spend their time outdoors, this teaches them that they can control his own actions and provides a safe opportunity to do this before reaching the teenage years. Circular, meandering paths within senior Primary School yards, or high schools allow significant walking to be done within even a short break. It also allows for walking classes to be undertaken, or walking in smaller groups with teachers while discussing troubles.
• It promotes creativity and imagination - This unstructured style of play also allows kids to interact meaningfully with their surroundings. They can think more freely, design their own activities, and approach the world in inventive ways. Interesting areas with seating or other features helps to engage children of this age, back into the natural environment.
• It teaches responsibility - Living things die if mistreated or not taken care of properly, and entrusting a child to take care of the living parts of their environment means they’ll learn what happens when they forget to water a plant, or pull a flower out by its roots. Children of this age can easily be given responsibility for areas within the school grounds. There is also evidence that elements of nature within classrooms – such as terrariums, fish tanks and plantariums offer great benefits. In addition, it teaches children to take responsibility for their own health – going outside without appropriate clothes, water or suncream is all a learning opportunity on the importance of planning and taking responsibility for your own care.
• It provides different stimulation - Nature may seem less stimulating than your childs favourite online game or TV program, but in reality, it activates more senses—you can see, hear, smell, and touch outdoor environments. The richness of the human experience is exciting and an appreciation of this should ideally be cultivated before the teenage years are reached. However, like most things, if children do not have experience of interacting with nature as young people, they will find it hard to do as adults.
• It gets kids moving - Most ways of interacting with nature involve more exercise to the physical body as well as brain than sitting on the couch. Your kid doesn’t have to be joining the local soccer team or riding a bike through the park—even a walk will get do this.
• It makes them think – Nature creates a unique sense of wonder for kids that no other environment can provide. The phenomena that occur naturally in backyards and parks everyday make kids ask questions about the earth and the life that it supports.
• It reduces stress and fatigue - According to the Attention Restoration Theory, urban environments and may indoor environments require what’s called directed attention, which forces us to ignore distractions and exhausts our brains. In natural environments, we practice an effortless type of attention known as soft fascination that creates feelings of pleasure, not fatigue.