It’s raining, there are puddles everywhere, the wind is blowing and it’s cold! But if you look out on the playgrounds at Baker, you will find children of all ages playing outside. Why do we go outside every day?
The time we spend outside every day is an important part of our daily schedules. Outdoor play is essential for the social-emotional as well as physical health of young children.
1. Being outside allows children to experience nature, discover new things, and make sense of the world around them. They are learning from their outdoor experiences; observing, recording, and reflecting on the daily patterns in nature as they explore their outdoor surroundings each day. Finding ice on the slide, jumping in those huge puddles, finding worms in the mud!
2. Being outside builds self-esteem as children try new things, build on their skills, become confident, and come to believe in themselves as active, energetic children. These experiences build resilience in children as they continue to persist at challenges. A kindergartner working every day to get himself or herself across the monkey bars all year finally gets across in the spring! That’s persistence — and think about the confidence that was built in the process. The smiles of accomplishment are priceless!
3. Being outside allows children the opportunities to experiment with how their bodies work, develop motor skills, take risks in play, gain self-control, problem-solve, and develop judgment about safety and dangers in their play.
4. Being outdoors strengthens social skills as children create friendships, begin to communicate, negotiate, resolve conflicts, learn how to cooperate, take turns, and follow rules, all of which are important features of mental well-being.
5. Being outdoors provides children the opportunities to be imaginative, curious, creative, and build childhood memories that will last forever.
And while all of this is going on — children taking risks, being challenged, getting exercise and becoming more physically confident — Baker teachers with a deep passion and understanding for outdoor play are standing at a safe distance, giving children space and honoring their joyful moments.
By Tracy Aiden
Mrs. Aiden teaches kindergarten.