Do you remember going to play outside as a child with your neighbourhood friends?
Running around until the streetlights came on, with no real structure to it – one day it was a game of “tag” in the park, the next you were drawing hopscotch and tic-tac-toe all over the sidewalk with sidewalk chalk.
Your parents sat on the porch, chatting with the neighbours, keep an eye on things but overall letting you do as you like.
You don’t have to be the top reviewed alternative school in Toronto to remember these times as well.
Here at Waldorf Academy, we believe free play outside is important for kids growth and development.
What Is Free Play?
Free play is playtime which is not structured or led by an adult caregiver or teacher.
It’s allowing kids to be kids, and gives them the freedom to explore without adult-imposed boundaries.
Really, it can involve just about anything that doesn’t have a structure to it – like a board game, a set activity, or an activity involving screens.
Why Is Outdoor Free Play Important?
Free play helps to develop creativity and problem solving.
Children learn how to overcome challenges, and work as a team during free play.
Let’s have a closer look at the benefits of free play outdoors.
1. Stimulates The Imagination
Free play in nature, without digital devices or screens, forces kids to get creative.
Sticks, pinecones, shells, and whatever else can be found in the natural environment become toys.
Fallen branches become makeshift shelters to build a hut.
Children practice teamwork and communication to express their ideas, and build things out of found objects.
Allowing children to play without limitations or adult-imposed expectations about what they should or shouldn’t be doing gives their imagination a chance to expand, and teaches children to stick with challenges they face, and not to give up.
This develops their problem-solving ability, which is undoubtedly one of the most useful skills in one’s career and life in general.
2. Breathing Fresh Air Has Health Benefits
You’ve probably heard getting outside for a walk, or a hike in nature can help to improve a bad mood, and there is something to this.
A study from Japan suggest that taking in the forest atmosphere can help us feel healthier, by breathing in beneficial bacteria, plant-derived essential oils, and negatively charged ions.
These beneficial bacteria and essential oils can help to fight off harmful microorganisms.
Additionally, exposure to fresh air, and increasing the amount of oxygen one gets can help to boost the immune system, stimulates the digestive system, and has beneficial effects for blood pressure and heart rate.
Exposure to fresh air can also increase energy levels and helps keep your mind sharp – another side effect of exposure to oxygen.
3. It Helps Children Remain Present
Giving children a chance to be in nature, to pay attention to details, and learn through discovery helps them to become present.
Making discoveries on one own leads to far greater learning and understanding of the world than can be gained from reading a book or listening to a lecture.
Being in nature gives children the opportunity to truly discover this natural beauty on their own.
For children who have excess energy to burn off, starting the day outdoors with free play can help give them a channel through which they can express this energy in a positive, constructive fashion. Later on, when they finally get to their indoor lessons later in the day, they’ll be more settled and focused.
Contact Waldorf Academy
Do you agree that outdoor play is important for the growth and development of children?
Do you want your child to attend a school where more emphasis is put on outdoor play than a 15-minute recess period twice a day?
Where outside play is embraced and just as important as other lessons for the growth and development of young minds?
Then contact us at Waldorf Academy today, to determine if a Waldorf education is the right fit for your child.