Outdoor Play


Play motivates children to move and explore new experiences. Children engage in play activities because of the fun, jolly, and enjoyment. Play improve health and motor development. Researches showed that play can increase children physical activities.

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Outdoor play, in natural environment especially, can reduce obesity risk in children. Because children physical activities increase along with the outdoor play they engange. Canadian children aged 7-11 years old were interviewed, the result showed that physical activities play seen as better activity than those which do not involve physical movement.

Some adults arrange activities for children in structured play. Structured play is planned in spesific place and scheduled, also has specific regulation. The examples of structured play are card, puzzle, soccer, tennis, etc.

Outdoor plays can be a form of unstructured play, which is unplanned and spontaneous. It can happen anytime and anywhere, all the ideas of play come from the children themselves. Such as colouring, drawing in blank sheet, role playing with dolls, making miniature with their own ways, running around, etc. The time children take in unstructured play, is the time they build their own goals. According to American Academy of Pediatric, children usually prefer unstructured activities. National Association for Sport and Physical Education suggest preschool aged children to engage in unstructured play at least one hour (more would be better) per day.

A natural place to engage these unstructured play is great choice to improve health, development, and the play itself. Nature serves various choice of play that suitable for children age and competencies. In nature, children are free to choose and iniatiate their imagination. With so many natural material they can create their own enjoyment. Trees, bushes, water, stones, and sand, also sun, wind and wind can increase children involvement in their play activities. Nature can not be replaced with other materials.

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Unstructured outdoor plays are great opportunities for children to manage their own control. It allows children to learn about themselves, what they do like or not. Even when they can not perform or make something, they do not need to feel failed or pressured by certain rules.

The type of play that children enjoy depends on children's own preferences, competencies, and their developmental phase. Few children maybe choose to engage in imaginary play, other children group choose physical play. Family also contribute to how children play. Some family factors are rules and customs in the family.

Outdoor play is combination of body movement, light, and different kind of activities. The benefits are not limited as stated above. Outdoor play also affects chidren social development in positive way. Children can meet their friends and interact with them. Sometimes they laugh in merry, sometimes they face conflict. How they learn to solve these kinds of interaction, is a way to develop their social skill.  Other benefit from outdoor play is the opportunity to develop children gross motor skill such as climbing, hanging, kicking, and walking.

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What adults should always remember is to consider children’s happines, merry, choices, and freedom in a play activity. If these criterias were not met, then it is not a play anymore.

Laelatus Syifa Sari Agustina

Herrington, S., & Brussoni, M. (2015). Beyond Physical Activity: The Importance of Play and Natures-Based Play Spaces for Children's Health and Development. Economy and Environment (I Janssen, Section Editor) .

Remmers, T., Broeren, S. M., Renders, C. M., Hirasing, R. A., Grieken, A. V., & Raat, H. (n.d.). A Longitudinal Study of Children's Outside Play Using Family Environment and PerceivedPhysical Environment as Predictor. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity .

Rock, A. (2017). Unstructured Play. Accesed through

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