A recent survey found that one in five British children don’t play outside on an average day. With everyone’s time so precious these days, how many are prioritising outdoor pursuits anymore?
There are many benefits to outdoor play for children, and it is proven that children who play outside are more likely to protect nature as adults. A University of British Columbia study showed that of 50 respondents aged between 18 and 25, 87% of those who played outside as children claimed to have a love of nature and 84% believe that protecting the environment is important.
Canopies for schools can be incredibly conducive to the learning environment. A great example is our installation at the Incredible Kids nursery in Hilton, which we turned around in four weeks from enquiry, fitting the canopy itself in just a day and a half. It gave the children a safe area they could play in immediately upon the nursery’s opening, providing an outdoor space for all weather conditions. Here are five other benefits of outdoor play:
As asserted by Fisher Price, playing outdoors is great for children’s muscle strength and coordination, balance, flexibility and motor skills. The typical high-energy activities children partake in outdoors – such as running, jumping, cycling and climbing –build fitness levels, burn calories and start to form positive long-term habits for physical strength and wellbeing.
Allowing children to engage in physical exercise helps their bodies to grow in the right way and builds strong bones. It also ensures that children are more physically confident with themselves and discover what their bodies are built to withstand, trying out low-level risks like rolling, sliding and swinging on various surfaces (grass, cement, sand and so on). This makes an outdoor play canopy a real asset to children’s wellbeing during their time at school.
Bestselling author Richard Louv is a celebrated advocate of the natural world’s importance to children’s development. He invented the term ‘nature deficit disorder’, and says that children who play outside are less at risk of sickness, stress and aggressive tendencies.
With more children than ever before using smartphones and technology which weaken their relationship with the outside world, there have been connections made between reduced ties with nature and issues such as obesity, attention disorders and depression.
The vitamin D from sunlight also has a whole host of other benefits, such as extra absorption of calcium, maintaining a properly functioning immune system and reducing the risk of flu, heart disease, rickets and multiple sclerosis.
As the National Childbirth Trust have stated, children use their senses to help them learn and this is significantly aided by the stimulating nature of the outdoors. Being out on their own helps them build independence and the ability to think for themselves, forming their own opinions and building their world knowledge by seeing it first-hand with their own eyes.
There have been many studies which show that the outdoors ‘boosts problem-solving skills, focus and self-discipline’. The link between movement and thinking skills is perhaps a surprising one in today’s more sedentary society, but American Education Researcher Dr Tony Pelligrini has long stated: “The more you keep children sitting, the less attentive they become.”
It is crucial that children be given the freedom of the outdoors to experiment with their play, allowing them to make more noise and engage in more physical activities, with more opportunity to explore. This is an observation upheld by Barnardos’ publication ‘Outdoor Play Matters’.
The outside world is free from the restraints of the indoors and encourages children to use their imagination with more natural stimuli. Children can gain inspiration from all the wonders of the world lying outside their front door, making their own entertainment by inventing new games without the influence of technology or household routine. In the absence of structure, children can truly explore their capacity for creation and enterprise.
Not only does the openness of the outdoors reduce children’s fear of self-expression, it also helps build trust in becoming accustomed to encounters with people outside of their home. This is something which is lost on many children brought up with fear of strangers in an age where increased media coverage is given to relatively rare abduction cases. Plus, with the global number of smartphone users now estimated at 2.32 billion, it is easy to see why the faculty for human interaction starts to become more and more hindered, both in the growing number of children owning these devices and in the parents who are teaching them basic life skills.
The importance of the outdoors to communication is confirmed by Barnardos: “Long before very young children begin to form speech, they soak in the sights and sounds around them that are essential to their language development.”
School canopies are a wonderful way of allowing children to be outside whilst knowing they are covered from the elements. If you would like to find out how you can utilise a canopy for your school, simply request a survey and we will quickly arrange an appointment for you.