Balancing Indoor and Outdoor Play For Young KidsOct 12, 2022 | 0 Votes
It's no secret that children love playtime. Apart from being able to interact with their favorite toys and playmates, playtime is a chance for kids to explore their hobbies and interests, as well as their likes and dislikes. Insights from UNICEF highlight the importance of play and its impact on children's mental health. Play teaches children to process their emotions in various situations, reducing stress levels and boosting confidence over time. More importantly, play can be educational for children as well.
Children's playtime is often divided between time spent outdoors and indoors. As parents, there may be preferences for which ones are more "suitable" — playing outside may cause injuries, for example, but playing indoors may mean a bigger mess to clean up afterward. Today, we'll discuss how a balance of both is the ideal option for children:
Board game mechanics boost cooperation
While board games tend to get competitive and intense, they can act as good practice for children to train their collaborative skills and "work" with other players throughout a board game. An exciting study explores how games that involve sharing of Lego bricks to achieve a goal, for example, can affect a child's cooperation as well as prosocial behavior. Even in competitive board games that may trigger conflicts, such conflicts can lead to improved negotiation skills and strategies.
How does this translate to playing outdoors? Some board game mechanics can also function using real-world props (as opposed to small board game props) to encourage more physical activity and immersion among children. Instead of building a bridge using Lego bricks, for example, children can learn how to build bridges using bigger items at a playground. Study results indicate that children preferred cooperative games (compared to competitive), so any physically cooperative game that can be played outdoors is a good enough alternative to keep them interested, especially if the rules are familiar.
Take your kids out for regular walks
Children nowadays may find it less encouraging or motivating to play outdoors. Why go outside and get their shoes dirty, for example, when they can stay indoors and play with their devices or watch cartoons? The key is to initiate outdoor activities as parents and model that outdoor-loving behavior for them to emulate. It's better to start them as young as possible. For growing families with toddlers, the assortment of pushchairs on iCandy are ultra-compact, multi-functional strollers that can support your kids, whether walking in the park or along a busy high street.
If you're worried about how to handle your children on a day out, prams may be the perfect solution for you to relax outdoors worry-free. Investing in a sturdy pram (or two) means no sibling or friend gets left behind for picnics or walks outside. The more you get them used to the outdoors, the more likely they'll want to initiate outdoor activities in the future.
Make use of VR games for immersion
We've previously written about the advantages and disadvantages of using VR for children, and with headsets ranging from Oculus to Samsung available on the market these days, it's hard not to consider trying one with the children. Aside from various games available, children might also enjoy the VR's educational aspect. In fact, using VR among children provides cognitive benefits and virtual experiences that resemble real-life ones.
Parents and educators can use VR to acquaint children with unfamiliar outdoor settings before bringing them out in the future. Additionally, having a VR headset ready can be a lifesaver in case you have a day out planned that's ruined by bad weather or other last-minute circumstances. Connecting a child's VR experience to skill development — and the outdoors — can be a great way to ensure they aren't too engrossed in the virtual world while building curiosity for real-world experiences they may not yet have access to.
About the Author - Esther Lloyd
Esther Lloyd is a freelance writer and blogger, focusing on education and child development. Esther likes to research the ways digital technology is changing education for future generations. When not writing, Esther spends her free time baking and watching TV with her niece and nephews.