Winter school holidays are upon us and, while it may be tempting to allow your kids to curl up in front of the YouTube for hours on end, there are so many reasons why you should ensure they are spending enough time playing outside.
With our year-round good weather and beautiful outdoor lifestyle, there is no reason why North Coast kids should be sitting inside playing on PlayStations and cell phones all day long. The team at Brettenwood Coastal Estate (which has one of the best outdoor play areas in the area) asked Salt Rock occupational therapists Cara Brimacombe, Nicky Aberdein and Nicky Stirton their thoughts. They could not emphasise enough the myriad of physical, mental and emotional benefits that children get from playing outside.
“When children play outside, they have the freedom to explore, engage, experiment and interact with a vast and unfamiliar sensory world, rich with possibilities,” they said.
Outdoor play can be classified as anything that moves or exercises the body without the limits of a household. Think games, swinging, swimming, exploring, building or doing cartwheels on the grass! They said though, that apart from encouraging a child’s physical development, outdoor play helps develop the sensory systems – like touch, smell, taste, sight, hearing – as well as proprioception (our body position sense) and vestibular (our movement sense).
“Most outdoor play involves a lot of physical activity, therefore strengthening, developing and refining the core and gross motor muscles. Playing outdoors also exposes children to different sensory experiences through climbing, jumping, running and digging. The movement, deep pressure and touch systems stimulated through these games can be both calming and alerting for children and assists with laying a solid foundation for overall child development. Outdoor play also facilitates a sense of wonder about the possibilities of games and objects and enhances creativity as there is no ‘right’ way to play.”
So, how do you get them outside? Disconnect TV’s or PlayStations, buy toys with multiple play opportunities (like a pool noodle that can be a sword or a horse), put away phones and play on your child’s level! And the more hours playing outside the better!
Brettenwood Coastal Estate, situated in Sheffield Beach, has a number of outdoor spaces where kids can play with their friends, family or by themselves. These include a kids’ play area, water slides, walking trails, catch-and-release dams, picnic area and, of course, residential gardens.
Details: www.brettenwood.co.za / (032) 525 4581 / [email protected]