This post was sponsored by Landscape Structures as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. All opinions expressed in my post are my own.
In the warmer months, my children and I take walks several times a day. There has been one thing that has struck me as so odd every time that we go for these walks: There are rarely any other children outside. We walk on average 3 to 4 miles every day through family neighborhoods and the lack of children always surprises me.
I know that I’m fortunate to be able to stay home with my children every day and that it isn’t possible for everyone, but many of these families are home. I see them in their homes as we pass by. It shocks me because as a young child, all of the kids in my neighborhood spent most of our days exploring the outdoors, whether that be building forts, playing on playgrounds, riding bikes, catching frogs, or just enjoying the sunshine and companionship of our friends.
In this day and age, it’s difficult because there are so many factors that seem to lead to children spending less and less time outdoors, mainly being technology, lack of time and also safety issues. With that said, I think that we should all work towards getting our children (and ourselves) outdoors more to play. Playing outdoors has so many amazing and fabulous benefits, especially for young children.
Landscape Structures has partnered with the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Childhood Development to research the importance of play. Play has been found to help develop the whole child by creating leaders, encouraging collaboration, and teaching about the values of persistence and problem solving. For children, a whole body sensory experience on a daily basis is so important for developing strong minds and bodies (Washington Post).
My 3 year old has taken on a major love affair with our local playgrounds. We are so lucky to have a Landscape Structure playground in our area and have visited ones out of town as well. One of my favorite things about Landscape Structures is their inclusion of everyone, whether its different ages, skill levels, capabilities or disabilities. This allows everyone to be able to learn, play and grow together.
I love watching my son as he explores and lets his imagination go wild. Structures turn into race cars, rockets, jungles and so much more in his mind. Watching him learn to play and interact with other kids has to be one of my favorite things. I could sit there for hours (and have) as I watch him navigate through new encounters and problem solve how to handle situations and watch him bravely take on different structures.
Playgrounds are absolutely great for immense play and learning. They are a place where children can build and strengthen skills such as leadership, teamwork, and perseverance. The social interactions and friendships formed while playing are amazing too. I feel like every time we visit our local playgrounds, my children grow in their confidence and motor skills.
Learning and Imagination
Allowing free play, especially outdoors, is incredibly important for children to learn and grow their imagination. As they explore the outdoors around them, whether it be rolling through the grass or climbing high on the playground, they take in everything around them and it piques their senses. Children often learn through all their senses and playing outside helps to stimulate them all. There are a significant number of studies that show that the more physical activity children get, the better they are able to focus and learn while in the classroom (which also supports why recess is so important in schools).
With so many of us leading much more sedentary lives than previous generations, getting outside and playing is so important. Running around on playgrounds and outdoors, allows children to burn energy and calories, while also fine tuning their motor skills (like jumping, running, leaping, skipping, etc.). Trying new tasks allows children to exhibit bravery and perseverance as they try time and time again to complete certain tasks (such as monkey bars or climbing). The increased physical activity is so important for maintaining a healthy weight, decreasing risk for certain diseases (cardiovascular, diabetes), gain muscle strength and build healthy and strong bones.
Appreciation for Nature
Nature and the outdoors are always changing. This provides children with a multi-sensory and stimulating experience. Being immersed in nature certainly allows children to grow up to appreciate it more, which is so important now more than ever before.
Play allows children to flex their social “muscle” and work on their social skills without always needing the assistance or parents and teachers. Through play children learn patience (waiting their turn), compromise (sharing), leadership, teamwork, regulating emotions (resolve conflicts), make friends and so many more vital social constructs that are integral for preparing a young brain for life, love and work skills.
To check to see if there is a Landscape Structures playground near you, go here and enter your zip code. We have a TON in my area so it’s likely there are some near you as well. They have some of the neatest and most unique playgrounds I’ve seen. The catalog on their site had me saying “wow” over and over again!
What were your favorite activities to do outside as a child? Do you share these experiences with your children now?