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The Link Between Outdoor Physical Play and Educational Outcomes: A Closer Look

As a parent, you want to give your child every opportunity to succeed in school and in life. While there are many factors that can influence a child's educational outcomes, research has shown that outdoor physical play can play a significant role. In this blog post, we'll explore the link between outdoor physical play and educational outcomes, and discuss ways that you can encourage your child to get active outside.



The Importance of Outdoor Physical Play


Outdoor physical play is an essential part of a child's development. It helps children to develop physically, socially, and emotionally. Outdoor play also provides children with an opportunity to explore and learn about their environment.


Physical Benefits

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regular physical activity is important for children's physical development. It helps to improve gross motor skills, such as running, jumping, and climbing, and fine motor skills, such as throwing and catching. Outdoor play also helps to improve children's coordination and balance.


Social Benefits

Outdoor physical play also provides children with an opportunity to interact with their peers and develop social skills. Children can learn to share, take turns, and cooperate with others while playing outdoors. Outdoor play also helps children to develop self-confidence and self-esteem.


Emotional Benefits

In addition to the physical and social benefits of outdoor play, research has also shown that it can have a positive impact on children's emotional well-being. Outdoor play provides an opportunity for children to release energy and reduce stress. It can also help to reduce anxiety and improve mood.


The Relationship Between Outdoor Physical Play and Educational Outcomes

But what about the link between outdoor physical play and educational outcomes? Is there a connection? According to a review of research published in the journal Children, Youth and Environments, the answer is yes. The review found that children who have regular opportunities for outdoor physical play tend to perform better academically than those who do not.


One study conducted in the UK found that children who had regular outdoor play had higher levels of concentration and were able to complete tasks more quickly and accurately than those who did not have regular outdoor play. Another study conducted in the US found that children who had regular outdoor play had higher levels of creativity and problem-solving skills.


But why might this be the case? According to the Children, Youth and Environments review, it's not fully understood, but it is thought that the physical and mental benefits of outdoor play may contribute to improved learning outcomes. Outdoor play may also provide children with an opportunity to learn about the natural world, which can enhance their understanding of science and other academic subjects.


Encouraging Outdoor Physical Play

Given the numerous benefits of outdoor physical play, it's important to provide children with regular opportunities to get active outside. Here are a few ways you can encourage outdoor physical play:

  1. Get involved: Join in on the fun by playing with your children. This can be a great way to bond and spend quality time together.

  2. Encourage exploration: Encourage children to explore their environment and discover new things. This could be as simple as going for a nature walk or playing a game of hide and seek.

  3. Use outdoor play equipment: These can be as simple as balls, frisbees, hula hoops - nothing fancy! This will provide children with a variety of different play options and their imagination will do the rest!

  4. Plan regular outdoor activities, such as going to a park or playground, playing sports, or going for a walk or bike ride.

  5. Encourage your child to play outside with their friends or siblings, which can provide social interaction and encourage physical activity.

  6. Plan outdoor trips to local attractions, such as parks, woodland, sports facilities.

  7. Encourage your child to participate in outdoor tasks and activities, such as raking leaves, or washing the car!

  8. Join a club that encourages outdoor physical activities for your child - like Greenways Forest School!

  9. Play simple outdoor games like tag, hide and seek, or hopscotch in your garden at a local park.

  10. Encourage your child to participate in a school or community garden, which can provide a chance for outdoor physical activity and learning about nature. In Hackney there are many of these including the Tree Musketeers!

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