I remember as a child I used to spend hours playing badminton in the garden with my dad – looking back on it now it feels like utter bliss compared to the amount of outdoor play children are getting these days. But how important is outdoor play for children?
Getting children away from the television, computers and other sedentary domestic pursuits are becoming increasingly harder these days. And in homes with a PlayStation or an Xbox, the challenge becomes so much harder. However, it is imperative that the young ones spend time outside the house every day. Paediatricians recommend that children between the ages of 12 and 36 months get at least half an hour of structured playtime daily, and another hour of unstructured playtime.
Benefits of outdoor activities
The benefits of outdoor play for children are numerous. For toddlers, participating in fun garden games offers an opportunity to develop their spatial and motor skills, coordination, and communication and language skills. As they grow older, playing outside accords them the opportunity to learn abstract concepts such as teamwork, as well as developing and improving their social skills.
In addition, outdoor play for children ensures exposure to a more competitive environment helping them to develop focus and motivation, which would serve them well in school and work. Needless to say, the exercise will also do their young bodies a world of good by strengthening their muscles, improving their agility, and enhancing their cardio vascular endurance. Moreover, it will also reduce the risk of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes later in life. This is why it is so crucial to instil the habit early.
Outdoor play for children: choosing the right toys
The simplest and most effective method to encourage your kids to spend time outside the house is through childrens sports toys. However, to ensure that the best sports toys can hold their attention, you need to select toys that
- Have recognisable pop culture connotations (e.g. cartoons, performers, etc.)
- Are brightly coloured
- Are sized in proportion to the child
- Are interactive (either in terms of physical activity, or through user feedback mechanism)
- Require simple cognitive and motor skills (the sense of accomplishment derived from achieving simple objectives create motivational loops)
Best sports toys for children
Not surprisingly, when it coms to outdoor play for children, age plays a strong factor in determining the best garden toys for children. As such, we have categorised our recommended toys based on age groups.
- Five years old and below: At this age, children are driven by curiosity – curiosity to explore their surroundings; curiosity to try out new things; curiosity to utilise their developing motor skills. To allow them to fully satisfy this inquisitiveness, parents should prepare toys that they can climb, pull, push and create.
Suggested toys: Ride on toys, climbing frames, beach balls, rocking toys, inflatable pools, and painting set (easel, paper and colours).
- Five to 12 years old: Children at this stage are keen to utilise their new found physical skills, as well as learning new skills. Simple sports games are perfect at this stage. In addition, you can occasionally involve your child in chores such as plucking weeds, taking clothes down from the clothesline or collecting letters from the mailbox
Suggested toys: Miniature sports toys like badminton, tennis, basketball and football. A miniature goal post or hoops, or nets, will introduce the element of competition into their activity.
- 12 Years Old and Above: They have now grown into miniature adults, and will enjoy more challenging and sustained physical activities.
Suggested toys: Jump ropes, foam ball guns, toy swords and racquets, along with social games like hide and seek and Twister.
What are your thoughts on outdoor play for children? Do you try to encourage your children to spend more time playing outdoors? What tips do you have to share for encouraging outdoor play? Do share in a comment below. You may also like to read this post on why taking regular screen time breaks is important for children.
Picture credit: Designed by Freepik
*This is a collaborative post