Benefits of Outdoor Play


Want to nurture a healthy, motivated student? Send your child outside for a daily dose of nature, say advocates of the No Child Left Inside movement.

Some tips to encourage outdoor play:

Go with them. If you’re excited about going outside, your kids will be, too, said Tanya Berry, a physical education researcher at the University of Alberta. She suggests limiting media use to reduce the pull from the indoors.

Adopt something. My boys love picking up “treasures” (aka garbage) in the alleys, so we recently signed up for an “adopt a beach” cleanup program. Parks, forests, highways and yards all need cleaning up.

Find an event. Children are enthusiastic detectives; check out local nature or ecology centers for scavenger hunts, which help develop problem-solving and visual-discrimination skills. Or try to find activities close to home and tailored to your child’s age.

Get gadgets. Transform the yard by equipping your children with headlamps or flashlights and letting them explore at night. During the day, pitch a tent in the yard or give them a small magnifying glass to watch bugs and other creatures. Try binoculars and compasses, too.

Create or join a family nature club. When families get together – to hike, garden or even take part in a stream reclamation – the kids tend to play more creatively by themselves or with others than during single-family outings, said Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods” (Algonquin, $14.95), who coined the phrase “nature-deficit disorder” to describe our modern disconnect with the natural world. The Children & Nature Network promotes nature clubs for families and has a free guide on how to start your own; go to

Play games. Create a backyard obstacle course and time each participant. Or play the alphabet game by finding letters hiding on the ground, in the trees or in the sky, suggests the National Wildlife Federation, which encourages outdoor activity in its Be Out There campaign; go to A branch can form a “y”; a blade of grass can be an “i.” Have older children spell words.

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One Response to Benefits of Outdoor Play

  1. Greg White says:

    I like how you used the picture with the article. Great article also. Kids need to be able to just play and have fun. Thanks for keeping the blog current.

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