play outdoors everyday!

Friday, April 8, 2011

It is recommended that preschoolers get at least 60 minutes of both structured & un-structured play time every day. Getting kids outdoors and into nature helps promote healthy child development physically, emotionally, intellectually and socially! Outdoor play is linked with children having a higher self esteem, longer attention spans and better performance at school. With all of the amazing benefits of play it’s easy to see the importance of incorporating it into the daily schedule.

Here are 5 tips to make outdoor play simple:

1. Unplug! Turn off the television, handheld devices and phones. Declare the next hour “play time” and get the kids outside.

2. Have plenty of toys ready to engage them. Pull out the bikes, helmets, jump ropes, balls and let them play! They may ignore everything that you pulled out and move onto something better (like raking your newly planted flower bed), but it’s great to give them options. Nothing beats playing with mom and dad, so grab a hockey stick or wiffle ball bat and join in on the fun.

3. Don’t let the weather interfere with play! Dress for the conditions. On sunny days, rub on the sunscreen & cover their heads with a sun hat (and be mindful to hydrate those little bodies). Throw rain boots & a rain coat on little ones and let them jump in puddles. When the temperature drops, bundle them up with appropriate layers, hats, boots & gloves. Mother Nature enjoys kids playing in all of her elements.

4. Expect kids to get dirty, skin a knee or clash over who gets a certain toy. Play time has to be laid-back time; allow lots of room for the unexpected.

5. Prepare a healthy & fun snack after the playing is over. Try cheese cubes, fruit kabobs, vegetables & hummus, berry-yogurt-granola parfaits or sandwiches cut into squares or triangles.

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