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Parenting -- Outdoor Play (1)

Key points

  • Outdoor play is good for children’s physical health, development and wellbeing. It’s fun too!

  • Encourage children to play outside several times a day.

  • Outdoor play ideas include tummy time, ball play, nature walks and bike rides.

  • You and your child can play outside even when it’s wet or cold.

Why outdoor play is important

Playing outside gives your child the chance to explore the natural environment and have adventures. Your child can play games, test their physical limits, express themselves and build their self-confidence.

Outdoor play can also mean more mess – and more mess often means more fun!

When your child is outside, they probably have more space and freedom for big movements like running, jumping, kicking and throwing. Physical activities like these are good for your child’s fitness and physical development.

Spending time outdoors might lower your child’s chances of developing short-sightedness. Also, some safe play in the sun can be good too – small amounts of sunlight exposure can help boost vitamin D levels.

Playing outside and being in natural environments can also help children relax and feel calm. This means outdoor play can be good for your child’s mental health and wellbeing too.

Getting your child into outdoor play: ideas

It’s a good idea to encourage your child to play outside several times a day.

If you have an outdoor space at home, that’s great. Sometimes, all you need to do is send your child out the door and let them come up with their own games. Just remember that when younger children are playing outside, they need your help to stay safe around outdoor hazards.

Many younger children love to ‘help’. This means that outdoor play can include working with your child on everyday tasks like weeding, sweeping the driveway, watering vegetables or hanging clothes on the line.

Making time to visit your local park, oval or playground is a low-cost and easy option, especially if you don’t have a yard. Your child will probably have even more room to run around there and might meet other children to play with.

If you can walk to the park, you can also teach your child about road and pedestrian safety on the way. Even younger children can get out of the stroller and walk for a little while. Walking together shows that you value and enjoy outdoor activity too. Other outdoor, active transport activities include riding bikes or scooters.

As your child gets older, you could encourage them to try a structured outdoor activity like junior sport.

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