A number of studies have shown that outdoor playtime during school does more than just help young students burn off extra energy. There are many different health benefits of this type of play, especially during the school day where it’s somewhat structured. Some children may not necessarily get to have outdoor playtime when they go home. Some may not even get this type of play on the weekends, especially those who live in an urban setting and cannot often go to the park. Here are some of the benefits of having outdoor breaks in school.
Outdoor Play Promotes Social Skills
Outdoors, children have unstructured time to play wherever and however they want. While breaks indoors may seem to promote social skills, they often don’t because students are still in a structured environment. They understand that the classroom and other parts of the school have certain rules that must be followed. Outdoors, however, that’s not the case. Here, children have to learn to share and accommodate each other in an unstructured setting. They learn to communicate and work out issues, such as who will use the playground equipment first.
It Improves Vision
Several studies done on children and their vision have suggested that playing outdoors helps improve a child’s distance vision more so than playing mainly indoors. While more research may need to be done in this area, the findings published in the Optometry and Vision Science journal encourage children to play outdoors.
It Helps Reduce Stress
By playing outdoors, children get their blood pumping and work their muscles. This, in turn, triggers the release of a number of different hormones and neurotransmitters in the body that lower stress and make children feel happy. Students can’t get this same feeling when they’re indoors. It also helps when they have high quality playground equipment readily available. Kids will want to run and play on it, whereas older equipment that’s in need of repair won’t seem nearly as appealing. Children love to get out on the playground, so it’s a worthwhile investment to upgrade their equipment on a regular basis.
It Improves Students’ Attention Span
Young children often have very short attention spans, especially if you’re asking them to sit in a chair and listen to an instructor for hours at a time. By letting children go outside to play, their attention span actually increases. They are able to sit still longer because they’ve just run around and expended energy. Studies have also shown that children tend to be more active in learning if they’re given outdoor playtime during school. They want to actively investigate things and learn rather than being more passive in their education.
Those who suffer from ADHD also benefit from outdoor play. They tend to show fewer symptoms, especially if they go outside and play during the evening or on the weekends. While schools have no control over those times, they can provide these students with playtime during the school day