Outdoor play is essential to develop motor skills and expend energy. Outdoor space enables children to be active; it allows them to do fun activities and move. When initiating active outdoor play, children develop motor skills, balance, muscle strength and lung capacity. Running, jumping, climbing, crawling, throwing, rolling and exploring are fun for children and have a considerable impact on their health and physical and motor development.
Outdoor play also provides an opportunity to explore nature. Having direct, frequent contact with nature (insects, plants, animals, matter, etc.) enhances children's experience while stimulating multiple areas of their development.
The weather and a change of season is no reason to stop outdoor play. The Canadian Paediatric Society confirms that uncovered skin may begin to freeze only from -25 C. As for changes in season, these are great opportunities to vary outdoor activities. Each season brings about its share of new discoveries.
Adults serve as role models for their children. When having fun outdoors, occasionally joining into outdoor play and allowing their kids play outside with other children their own age, adults are helping them learn to enjoy outdoor play, rain or shine.
The times are changing. How can you reconcile screen time and active play? Time spent on active play in early childhood is reduced to make room for sedentary or low-intensity activities. When young children spend time watching shows on baby-oriented TV channels, it takes them away from motor and exploratory activities that are fundamental to their development. A Québec committee of experts on screen time recommends:
- Preventing children under the age of two from spending time in front of a screen.
- Limiting screen time to less than one hour a day for children between the ages of two and five.
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