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Let's Play Outdoors!

Building dens, climbing trees, playing pooh sticks by a river, kicking a ball in the street with your friends... these are all simple pleasures that many of us enjoyed as a normal part of our childhood.

A study by TV channel Eden has found that 64% of children in the UK play outside less than once a week, with 28% not having been on a country walk in the last year and 20% never having climbed a tree!

We get it, it can be difficult to find the time & energy to give our kids the opportunity to enjoy outdoor play – we’re parents too. The rise of screen time, stranger danger, curriculum pressures, parent workload… the list goes on. The Outdoors Project - children making dens, hiding under shelters being sprayed with water pistol in nature

There’s awareness about this already as parents, but as a society we seem to be going further down this same path.

When children play it may seem more like leisure to adults, but actually, very important learning processes are happening in the brain, and children are making sense of the world in their own way. We need to be making plenty of time for it!


The benefits of outdoor play for children:

•    Improved physical health: Outdoor play helps children develop strong bones and muscles, improve their coordination and balance, and reduce their risk of obesity.
•    Improved mental health: Outdoor play can help reduce stress, anxiety and depression in children. It can also improve their mood and self-esteem.
•    Improved cognitive development: Outdoor play is one of the most meaningful ways for children to learn. It applies what they’ve learnt in the classroom to real-life situations in a way that interests them. It helps children develop their problem-solving and risk taking skills, and  it’s great for creativity and imagination.
•    Improved social skills: Outdoor play provides children with opportunities to interact with other children and learn how to cooperate and share.

We only get one chance on this spinning green round thing & have to set adventure into our children’s minds. We’ve all had those moments where we’ve had to go out, for whatever reason, and in doing so we feel better. The energy shifts. Being outdoors can take us out of our minds and into our bodies.


The Outdoors Project - children playing outdoors in natureIt can be as simple as getting out and putting one foot in front of the other - the movement and the shift from artificial indoor lights to natural daylight can help to elevate our mood. Immersing ourselves in the elements of the outdoors engages the senses: smelling the floral plants, feeling mud squish beneath boots, seeing life growing around us, tasting the smells or moisture in the air, and hearing the wind whistle through the trees... It makes us feel more grounded.

The colder months involve shorter days, and often the time spent indoors added in with the darkness can cause our mental health to dip. Of course, this can occur at any time of year but the motivation to get up, wrap up and head outside when we are feeling tired and a little flat can be hard to find.

Our after-school clubs can shift children’s moods to the positive very quickly after a day indoors. Even those who love the clubs can feel understandably grumpy and tired after sitting down in classrooms for much of the day. Granted, not all the playgrounds have green grass and trees, but most have small areas with greenery in, plus we seek out nature, the bugs under the stones, the birds flying overhead, leaves have flown in from other trees giving us something to investigate. 

(Spoiler alert!...) All of our sessions - holiday clubs, after school clubs, parties, workshops & toddler groups - are outdoors!  They begin with movement, by getting the kids to run around and play together. This almost instantly shifts their energy levels. We then focus on various games and activities, designed to be fun at their core, while having elements which encourage the children to be curious & challenge them in various ways.