Benefits of Outdoor Play for Children’s Learning & Development

There are many benefits of outdoor play for kids of all ages. Here’s a look of some of the benefits for different age groups:


Infants from birth to 1 year of age can get many benefits from spending a bit of time outdoors.

Some of these benefits include:

Stimulation of Their Senses 

In their first year of life, your baby will use all 5 of their senses to learn about their environment and the world around them.

Spending time outdoors with your baby will give them an opportunity to use their sense of sight, smell, touch and hearing to explore the natural world.

Improving Overall Health 

Exposing your infant to small amounts of sunshine and fresh air can result in healthier infants, compared to babies who spend most of their time indoors.

Spending just a few minutes each day outside in the sun isn’t harmful for your baby and allows them to receive a nice dose of Vitamin D.

If you’re worried about exposing your baby to direct sunlight, cover their skin and head and keep them out for 15 or 20 minutes.

1-3 Year Olds

Toddlers need to be supervised when playing outside.

As a parent you want to provide your toddler with a safe area for them to play, away from the road and other dangerous things.

But, as you can see, the following benefits your toddler gets from playing outdoors are well worth your effort:

Development of Gross and Fine Motor Skills 

Allowing your toddler space to run, opportunities to pull a wagon or push a toy lawn mower, giving them opportunities to dig in dirt or sand will help your child exercise their muscles and develop both fine and gross.

Discovery of Nature 

Playing outside allows your toddler to explore and discover nature on their own terms.

If you watch your child wander around the lawn you’ll notice that they’re fascinated with the simplest acts of nature: ants building a hill, bugs crawling or birds in the trees.

Or they’ll delight in picking some flowers, running barefoot in the grass and splashing around in puddles after a rain.

Begin To Learn Safety Rules

Spending time with your toddler outdoors allows you to start teaching them safety rules that will prepare them to be more independent later in life.

Spending time outside also lets your toddler learn to stay away from animals they are unfamiliar with, not to talk to strangers and to stay away from streets and roads.

Practice Independence 

Toddlers who are allowed to explore their own yard freely under parental supervision begin to experience feelings of independence and start to gain self confidence.

4-5 Year Olds

By the time your child reaches preschool and Kindergarten age they’re already becoming quite independent.

They are more likely dressing themselves with very little parental assistance and some preschoolers even choose the outfits they like to wear.

They also engage themselves in more independent play by either entertaining themselves or playing with siblings or friends close to their own age.

Some of the benefits for outdoor play for 3 to 5 year olds include:

Improved Socialization Skills 

Engaging with others in outdoor play often requires your child to take turns, share their toys and to negotiate what and how they’re going to play.

These are all great and important lessons that will help your child learn the socialization skills they will be using for the rest of their lives.

Calming Effect 

Studies show that when children spend time outside they are calmer and more relaxed.

This can lead to better sleep habits and improved behavior.

Children who feel calmer also are able to concentrate for longer periods of time and overall tend to be more cheerful.

Stronger Body And Mind

Kids who play outdoors have more opportunity to run, jump, tumble and even roll, all of which helps strengthen their body physically.

On top of that, exercising outside also helps improve your child’s thinking and early reasoning skills.

Exploration Of Nature 

Spending time out in nature allows your child to explore nature’s bounty such as different plants, insects, clouds, weather conditions and rocks.

This helps them learn first-hand about nature and the world around them.

6-9 Year Olds

By the time your child reaches Elementary School they have already made friends and enjoy participating in group activities both indoors and outdoors.

Spending time outdoors both alone and with friends offers several benefits for kids between the ages of 6 and 9 including:

Improved Negotiation Skills 

When children play in groups there are bound to different ideas on what and how to play as well as the rules of different games.

This requires your child to engage in negotiations in order to get some of their views or ideas heard and used.

In addition, there will be disagreements that your child will be engaged in and will need to learn how to handle.

A Better Understanding Of The Natural World 

Elementary school age children learn about the parts of flowers, the different seasons, why leaves change colors and a multitude of other things involving natural science.

By spending time outdoors your child can see and observe what they are learning first-hand, which will help them better understand what they’re studying in school.

Acquire A Wider Range Of Skills

Children develop certain skills from playing indoors, using computers, learning to talk softly and play quietly.

When they play outside, they acquire other skills such as how to throw and catch a ball, how to navigate cross walks, a variety of skills associated with outdoor sports and lots of other skills that they simply can’t learn without the opportunity to play outdoors.


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