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Why Being Outdoors Is So Important For Kids

Kids cycling

 

Happy, healthy family – that’s all any parent wants. We already know that running and playing outside in the sunshine encourages fitness, movement and active childhoods. But did you know that extended periods of time outdoors are thought to also be critical to the children’s ability to learn, their self confidence and their mental health as well?

In an article published in the Australasian Journal of Early Childhood called “From Forest Preschool to Bush Kinder : An Inspirational Approach to Preschool Provision in Australia”, researchers investigated the benefits of incorporating dedicated outdoor time into the education curriculum in Australian preschools and other early childhood institutions worldwide. The results were surprising.

British studies, they reported, had documented that “forest preschool experiences” correlate with “increased confidence, motivation and concentration, increased social, physical and language skills, deeper conceptual understandings and respect for the natural environment…These reports reaffirm earlier research which identified that Scandinavian preschool children who spent more time outdoors and had access to woodlands demonstrated physical benefits and increased social and imaginative play.”

In other words, dedicated time outdoors, interacting with nature, is a vital part of childhood, not only from a physical perspective but also from an educational standpoint.

Teacher, Jane Williams-Siegfredsen, agrees. In an article on the SBS Dateline website this year she says, “Research is showing the huge benefits of children spending time outdoors – better brain development, better bone and muscular development, better social and cognitive development, emotional wellbeing and less illness.”

The great news for the residents of Atherstone is that the entire neighbourhood has been specifically designed to maximise interaction with the outdoors. Rather than a congested, built up feeling, Atherstone is spacious – over a quarter of the area is open space. A short walk along any of the tree-lined streets will bring families within close access to bike trails, walking paths, wetlands, 8 hectares of waterways and a 100 hectare park.

This means that adopting some of the learnings of early childhood studies is easy for the Atherstone community. No need for worry about too much screen time, expensive toys or what to do as a family on the weekends. In particular the residents of Settlers Creek will be living right in amongst the wetlands with glorious bushland views over the creek and its magnificent red gums. The very neighbourhood itself encourages families with young kids to head outside to ride, run, smell the flowers and, most importantly, to play.

And, if all the other neighbourhood kids are doing the same, this means a whole community of active, engaged, relaxed, smart and happy children. What more could you ask for?

References

http://www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/our-publications/australasian-journal-early-childhood/index-abstracts/ajec-vol-39-no-4-december-2014/forest-preschool-bush-kinder-inspirational-approach-preschool-provision-australia-full-free-text-available/

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/dateline/article/2016/02/23/comment-its-important-children-learn-be-cold-wet-and-survive