When it comes to choosing a daycare that will benefit your child as much as it benefits you, it's important to look for facilities that encourage healthy development. One essential you should put on your checklist is a safe and sizeable outdoor area for your little one to run around and play in—here are three reasons why.
1. Outdoor Play Encourages Fitness
While your little one won't be heading to the gym—or even P.E. class—any time soon, that doesn't mean it's too early to start thinking about encouraging them to lead a fit and active lifestyle. One study found that a whopping 2/3 of Australian children aged two to five aren't getting enough physical activity, which can lead to future health problems like obesity.
National guidelines recommend that young children engage in three hours of daily activity, so it's important that your child spends their days in a centre with a good outdoor play area where they can run around and exert energy. Building an exercise habit at a young age will then encourage your child to remain fit and healthy throughout their childhood and adulthood.
2. Outdoor Play Teaches Children
Regardless of whether you're sending your child to a structured early learning program or a play-focused daycare centre, every day should present learning opportunities. One great way for young children to gain useful knowledge is to play outdoors, which encourages learning and development in a variety of areas that indoor play can't meet in the same way.
When playing outdoors, your child will discover new textures and natural elements, begin to ask basic pre-science questions relating to the environment, and even learn more about their own physical capabilities when running, jumping and climbing.
3. Outdoor Play Develops Social Skills
The indoor areas of most daycare centres are filled with a variety of different toys and playthings. Indoor spaces can also feel crowded and intimidating when they're filled with other children. When combined, these two factors make it difficult for more shy children to come out of their shells. In outdoor spaces, on the other hand, most activities are centred around group play—such as games like 'tag', for example.
This makes outdoor play a great way to encourage children to talk to their peers and develop their social skills. On top of that, making new outdoor discoveries gives children more opportunities for discussion with friends, daycare leaders and parents, helping them practice communication.