Time spent playing outdoors is often one of the most well-loved aspects of early childhood education for many children. When the weather starts to get chilly, particularly if you’re in one of the cooler regions, it can be tempting to avoid going outside and opt for staying inside with the heater on.
While getting cosy is a great thing to do in winter, it’s important to continue to promote and make time for that time outdoors!
5 benefits of playing outside in winter
Need more convincing to get the boots and coats on? Here are 5 benefits that children and educators have to gain from getting outside to play in winter.
1. Being outdoors increases physical activity
Children who spend more time outdoors are more physically active. It goes without saying that physical activity has countless benefits for children (and adults!). Being outside gives that sense of space and freedom we need to move our bodies and explore our gross motor skills.
2. Fresh air and sunlight boost health
Research strongly supports the contribution that fresh air and sunlight have on our overall health. From improved circulation, a better immune system and even enhanced eyesight, the great outdoors is genuinely great for our health.
3. Outdoor time improves sleep
We all know how important quality sleep is for children. Time spent outside can help to regulate sleep patterns and circadian rhythms so that children (again, and adults!) have the best chance of having a greater night’s sleep.
4. Nature play reduces stress
Being in ‘green spaces’ or natural environments lowers adrenaline and cortisol levels (stress hormones) and makes us feel calm and happy. Studies even suggest that outdoor time increases life satisfaction and alleviates symptoms of depression and anxiety.
5. Promotes embracing the environment year-round
Experiencing the full spectrum of life is important and heading out in the cold can be a powerful way for children to learn that. While the sun shining on a warm summer’s day might be the ideal state of the outdoors for many, there is still plenty of beauty to be found on a cold winter’s day. Wrap up, pop on a coat and get out there!
How do you embrace the colder months in early childhood education?
We’d love to hear your thoughts and insights into outdoor winter play – share with us on social media! You can join our closed Facebook group or comment over on our Facebook page. We can’t wait to hear your ideas!