Have Fun in the Sun! Encouraging children to explore the outdoors and nature play.

April 21, 2017
 
5 kids jumping in air outside

flickr.com

This spring let’s get the kids outside, into nature, and making their own discoveries! Dr. Scott Sampson, host of Dinosaur Train, provides some Expert Tips & Advice to PBS Parents about the importance of letting our children play and explore the outdoors.

Parenting today can be hard. Many of us work outside of the home, try to be active in our communities, and try to keep our children involved in activities that will help enrich their lives. With all of this going on, we can sometimes become lost in the hustle and bustle of the world. Dr. Scott Sampson, host of Dinosaur Train, provides some Expert Tips & Advice to PBS Parents about the importance of letting our children play and explore the outdoors.

Dr. Sampson begins by discussing the loss of outdoor free play.  Thinking back to when we were kids, many of us had simple, free playtime. This was fun, stress- free, and allowed us to use our imagination.  Whether we were taking our Barbie swimming in a puddle, making sand castles, or building a fort out of sticks and leaves; we were allowing ourselves to be free outdoors. There was no pressure to win or fear of losing.  There were no set schedules or restrictions.  Just kids, the outdoors, and our imaginations! Today many of our children are so involved in activities that they miss this great experience. Play researchers have discovered many benefits of free play including:

  • Promoting creativity and imagination, problem-solving and higher IQ scores, and emotional and social development.
  • Engendering a sense of self and a sense of place, allowing children to recognize both their independence and interdependence.
  • Fostering cognitive, emotional, and moral development, especially in outdoor settings.
  • Improving such motor skills as balance, coordination, and agility, critical for growing bodies.

Tomorrow, April 22nd is Earth Day so there is no better time to start exploring the outdoors than now! Nature Cat’s Great Outdoors PBS KIDS app encourages kids to explore, discover, and observe nature in their own backyard and beyond! Art Quest encourages kids to observe all the colors that are around us while outdoors. Daniel Tiger shows us how we can discover many things on a nature hike.  On the other hand, while playing outside, you can listen as Jason Mraz sings a beautiful song about playing outside with his Sesame Street friends.  These are just a few examples of things we can do to help expose our children to outdoor play. Remember to check with your local parks or community to see if they are having any outdoor events for Earth Day as well.  WILL-TV will be at the grand opening of the Urbana Park District’s Friendship Grove Nature Playscape tomorrow from 4pm-6pm! We will even have a special guest PBS Character there to take some photos with the kids! We hope to see you there!