The Power of Outside Play 

Jenning Prevatte, M.Ed.

One of my favorite topics to discuss is the power of play. In my last blog, I spoke about the benefits of play and its essential role in learning. I love this quote by Diane Ackerman, “Play is our brain's favorite way of learning.” This is so true!  Play not only has a positive impact on learning and brain development, but it also promotes mental and physical wellness. In our current pandemic play is critical to not only children but adults as well to relieve stress.

Outside playtime is an important part of any child’s daily routine.  Children cannot wait for the part of the day to go outside and play!  And I am willing to bet either can adults. To support learning and wellness, outside time should be fun, relaxing, stress-reducing, and tension-relieving. Characteristics of quality play are that it is intrinsically motivated, voluntary, enjoyable, active, and self-oriented. Play gives both children and adults permission to explore, try new things, fail, and get back up and do it again. Since play stimulates the mind and boosts creativity it is a natural addition to the daily routine of life. Building play opportunities, especially outdoor play into your daily routine is an essential part of the day for both children and adults to reset, relieve fatigue, and develop self-regulation and resilience. These are necessary life skills for healthy individuals.

Furthermore, playing outside supports the development of the whole individual and sets the stage for active learning and engagement. Spending quality time outdoors promotes:

Physical skills

Social/Emotional; skills

However, these skills are not limited to children, adults practice and enhance these skills through play too. So, in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “It is a happy talent to know how to play.” Let your talent shine, bring play into your children’s life and yours by planning outside time into your daily routines, and relish in the healing energy.