Why Outdoor Play is Important for Kids

outdoor play benefits

Playing outside is good for kids! The CDC recommends that kids get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. There are so many benefits of outdoor play that I have witnessed with my own children. Parents and caregivers should encourage their child to spend time in the front or backyard as well as visit your local park. Outdoor play is good for a child’s physical, emotional and social skills. Your child can get creative by making up games, test their physical abilities and build their self-confidence.

two kids playing at St. Pete Pier playground

This post is in partnership with The Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County. However, all opinions on this post are my own.

Outdoor Play Physical Benefits

My kids love spending time outside especially at the local playgrounds. They enjoy chasing each other, jumping and climbing the equipment. These activities help improve their motor skills. Not a fan of playgrounds, let your child explore their backyard or neighborhood. You can go on a nature hunt and use this FREE scavenger hunt sheet. If you own a bike or scooter, take a trip around your neighborhood or local park. This is a great way to exercise, improve coordination, build stamina and a fun way to spend time together as a family. Does your child enjoy climbing trees? They are able to enhance their coordination, balance and strength.

There are so many cool places in Tampa Bay where kids can enjoy outdoor play. Check out the list below.

  • Julian B Lane Riverfront Park – 1001 North Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33606
  • Carrollwood Village Park – 4680 West Village Drive, Tampa, FL 33624
  • American Legion Park – 106 E Sligh Ave, Tampa, FL 33604
  • Ballast Point Park – 5300 Interbay Blvd, Tampa, FL 33611
  • Anderson Playground in Hyde Park Village – 821 S Rome Ave, Tampa, FL 33606
  • Tampa Water Works Park – 1710 N Highland Ave, Tampa, FL 33602
  • Northdale Park and Recreation Center – 15550 Spring Pine Dr, Tampa, FL 33624
  • Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park – 600 N Ashley Dr, Tampa, FL 33602
  • All People’s Community Park – 6105 E Sligh Ave, Tampa, FL 33617
outdoor play in Tampa, Florida

Outdoor Play Emotional Benefits

Engaging in outdoor play helps children with their emotional development. They learn how to express themselves when they are dealing with conflict in public spaces. This includes learning to take turns and sharing playground equipment with other kids. It also enables them to understand how their actions affect other people.

Other emotional benefits of outdoor play include improved self-esteem. Kids get excited when they try something new and accomplish a goal. Such as climbing up the stairs without assistance, going down the bigger slide, kicking a ball further away or jumping higher.

Outdoor play also helps improve the mood of kids especially if they experience trauma. We recently lost our beloved dachshund. Spending time at the playground with friends helped my kids process this tremendous loss. It was nice watching them laugh and run around. This provided a distraction and escape from grief.

outdoor play for kids

Outdoor Play Social Benefits

Visiting playgrounds, gardens, splash pads and parks introduce children to people that are sometimes different from them. This gives kids the opportunity to have conversations with their peers and improve their language skills. They will also develop healthy ways of establishing relationships in a way that doesn’t feel forced. Other social benefits of outdoor play include teamwork and cooperation. I love watching my boys work with other kids to establish rules for a new game and settle disagreements. These interactions with each other helped improve their communication skills. The top social benefit of outdoor play is kids learn how to engage with each other while having a great time.

outdoor play benefits for kids

Now that you know the benefits of outdoor play, you may need suggestions of where to go or what to do. Water play is popular with most age groups. Find a local splash pad that is FREE or low cost. You can also set up sprinklers in your backyard or have a water balloon fight.

Do you have any balls at your home? Take them outside and let your child have fun kicking it around or play catch. You can also take the ball to your local park and let other kids join in on some outdoor fun. Let the kids establish rules for their game or they can just run around with the ball.

Playing with bubbles is always a hit with the kids. Use a variety of small and large wands or a bubble machine to provide endless fun for your kids. They will have a great time chasing the bubbles or counting how many they can pop.

Here’s a list of toys that are great for outdoor play:

  • Jump ropes
  • Hula hoops
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Magnifying glass
  • Frisbee
  • Parachute with handles
  • Trucks
  • Balls
  • Squirt toys
  • Bubbles
kids playing with bubbles

Visit ELCHC.org to get more family resources as well as screening and support services. If you want to talk with a member of their staff, please call the Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County office at (813) 515-2340.

Check out these awesome ideas for family fun:

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