For many stay-at-home parents, sending their children outside to play or setting up a visit to the park can feel like a lot of work. Between finding both (ridiculously small) sneakers, applying sunscreen meticulously, getting water bottles filled up, and managing at least one child all the while, it can often seem a whole lot simpler to just stay inside and find a different activity.
However, many recent studies are showing that spending time in nature can mean a whole lot more than just a change of pace for children. We’ve put together a list of 10 scientifically-backed reasons that it is important for children to spend time outdoors (and it probably doesn’t hurt their parents, either)!
i. Sunshine Means Vitamin D
Many children do not get as much Vitamin D as they should, according to some studies. Time outdoors gives children exposure to sunlight, which in turn gives them a healthy daily dose of Vitamin D. Breastfeeding moms, don’t feel dissuaded! There are numerous options for wraps to keep you covered and warm if you need to schedule a feeding during your child’s time outdoors.
ii. Outdoor Time May Help With Focus
A study has found that spending time in nature can help relieve ADHD. Even if your child is neurotypical, time outdoors can help improve focus and attention span.
iii. Interacting With Nature Helps Social Skills
In a day and age when so many children only want to interact with a smartphone or TV screen, time outdoors allows for them to interact with the natural world around them. The Guardian has stressed the importance of kids being able to go outside and really experience nature and biology without the help of a screen.
iv. So Does Playing with Other Kids at the Park
The same article also stresses that time outdoors and at the park is a key time for children to socialize. Again, in a time when technology is so prominent in children’s lives, it is crucial to stress friendships and socialization.
v. Time Outdoors Can Reduce Stress
A study by Cornell found that green, lush surroundings have a profoundly calming effect on children. The more nature, the less stress experienced by children, so head on out to the park!
vi. It Improves Their Immune System
Many scientists believe that the germs and bacteria that are commonly found in dirt are actually good for children, as they boost immune defenses! So next time your child offers you a mud pie, you may want to think twice before saying no.
vii. Outdoor Time Improves Their Vision
Just 14 hours per week of natural light will reduce your child’s risk of nearsightedness. Why not skip the future glasses bills and spend some time in nature?
viii. Taking A Walk Boosts Creativity
A study found that walking outside in nature has a positive effect on creativity. So, before your next craft session, try taking a walk with your child and see what amazing artwork results.
ix. It Improves Academic Performance
Time outdoors improves children’s test scores in certain subjects. While good grades certainly aren’t everything, the healthy practices that can lead to them are very important. Spending time in nature can boost critical thinking, which can help your child in nearly all aspects of his or her life.
x. It’s Just Plain Healthy!
It’s a commonly known fact that exercise improves health in tremendous ways. So, why not start your child on the path towards developing a positive relationship with exercise and outdoor play, so he or she can continue to exercise and stay in shape for their whole life!
What are you waiting for? Get playing!