Skip to content

Playing outdoors

Child In Yellow Gum Boots And A Blue Coat Paddling In A Steam For Outdoor Play

We know that being outdoors can make you healthier and happier and as the global COVID-19 pandemic continues, evidence emerged early that it was safer to be outside as the coronavirus transmits less effectively outside. Ample research has also shown that nature exposure has numerous long-term benefits and outdoor play fosters children’s intellectual, emotional, social, and physical development. By being outside and surrounded by nature, children experience an ever-changing and free-flowing environment that stimulates all the senses, developing all aspects of a child in synchrony.

Most of us spent ample time in nature as children, climbing trees, exploring rocks and bugs, or even just playing games outdoors with friends. Little did we know that these fun activities were actually building our brains, bodies, and characters for later life. There is growing evidence that children are increasingly disconnected from the natural world and without these direct experiences in nature, research findings suggest that children are missing opportunities to enhance their health and well-being. In an increasingly urbanised world – with television, computers, and extracurricular activities competing for time – fewer children have the opportunity to enjoy playing in nature. 

Many studies show the positive links between direct experiences in nature and children’s mental, emotional and physical health and well-being, providing strong foundations for life-long learning. The studies show that regular direct access to nature can: 

  • increase self-esteem and resilience against stress and adversity.
  • improve concentration, learning, creativity, cognitive development, cooperation, flexibility, and self-awareness.
  • prevent childhood obesity.

Time in nature is not leisure time; it’s an essential investment in our children’s health. We can confidently reassure parents and whanau that by spending time playing outdoors their child/ren will develop much stronger foundational skills for now and in the future.

Child in red pants and gum boots stacking pebbles in a stream during outdoor play
A group of three children and their carer looking into a stream during outdoor play
Child in a blue coat squatting in a steam for outdoor play
Back To Top