Why kids need to spend time in nature?

Reading books on nature and watching films about animals and birds help children realize the beauty of creation. However, taking them out or letting them out to play and experience nature does well to help them connect to nature. Nature play fosters a child’s intellectual, physical, emotional, and social development. Here are 10 reasons to let your child go out, play and learn in nature:

Nature improves your child’s physical fitness. Outdoor play activities such as climbing trees, jumping in mud puddles, and chasing games allow a child to be more physically active than indoor play. By playing outdoors, children become more alert and better at using their bodies; increase their physical coordination, agility, and balance; strengthen their immunity; build strong bodies; and reduce their risk for obesity.

Outdoor activities expose them to vitamin D. Being outside helps keep children physically healthy. Being out in nature not only provides your child with opportunities for physical activity but also exposes him/her to much-needed sunlight. Exposure to sunlight means your child absorbs the ‘sunshine vitamin,’ vitamin D. Vitamin D is produced in the skin from sunlight exposure and helps boost bone growth and development and prevents cardiovascular health issues, such as diabetes.

Being outside in nature contributes to their mental and emotional well-being. According to studies, kids who play outside are smarter, happier, and more attentive. For children with ADHD, playing in green spaces or open spaces could help them handle the symptoms of attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorders, increase their concentration and self-control, and do well in school.

Interacting with nature brings out the innate scientist of a child. Nature provides children with countless opportunities for creativity, discovery, and science education. The natural environment is one enormous open-ended classroom or laboratory where children learn by doing and experiment with sights, sounds, scents, and textures of the outdoors. Interacting with nature – either by playing in the mud, discovering insects, taking a hike, camping, etc. – helps nurture their inquisitive mind, thus they learn how to observe, think, ask questions, and make hypotheses.  

Playing in nature promotes creativity and imagination. This unstructured style of play allows kids to interact meaningfully with their surroundings. They can think more freely, create their own activities, solve problems without inhibition, and approach the world in creative and inventive ways.

Playing outdoors is better than playing video games. Nature may seem less stimulating than your child’s video games, but in reality, it activates more senses. Kids can see, hear, smell, and touch outdoor environments. By spending more time amidst nature, children experience an ever-changing and free-flowing environment that stimulates all the senses. So while screen time is the easier, more popular choice, it is more important to set aside time for outdoor play.

Playing in nature boosts your child’s social development. When children play outdoors, there are opportunities to interact and play with other children. By playing outdoors, they gain new playmates and make new friends. It helps them to connect with one another, share problems, collaborate to make up games, and develop empathy toward fellow children (and fellow humans).

Taking children outdoors helps them love nature. Taking your child out to fully witness and experience nature – from the different kinds of animals to the different ecosystems – does more to encourage his/her passion for caring for nature and the environment. The only way to enable children to develop a deep love for protecting and preserving nature is to let them out to explore the awe and wonder of the natural world.

Nature teaches children a thing or two about responsibility. With meaningful inputs from their parents and teachers, children learn what happens to living things – the environment in general – if not taken care of properly. With the encouragement of society, they will strive to take good care of creation and fight for the preservation of nature.  

Being in nature helps children build confidence. The natural environment is an open-ended, less-structured classroom or laboratory where children are more confident with trying out things by themselves. Such an experience helps them realize they have the power to control their own actions but not without first learning to take risks, try and fail, and fail again. 

Image by Amanda McConnell from Pixabay

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