May 19, 2018 | David F. Coppedge

Outdoor Play Is Good for Children

A program to re-introduce kids to the great outdoors says, “Dirt is Good.”

National Geographic encourages parents to open the door and send kids outside to play. Why? Because “the outdoors is the world’s greatest playground.”

“Play is a primary way that children learn about themselves and the world around them,” says Sir Ken Robinson, a leading expert in education, creativity and human development. “The failure to play is now a critical issue and it calls for concerted action for change,” he warns. Many would agree, and this is the driving force behind Outdoor Classroom Day—a global teacher-led campaign, supported by Unilever’s Dirt is Good brands including OMO, Persil, and Skip.

With over half of children spending an hour or less a day playing outside, that’s less than an average maximum-security prisoner in America, Dirt is Good wants to encourage children to reconnect with Real Play out of doors—not only at home but also at school. Outdoor Classroom Day, taking place on 17th May and 1st November this year, will see schools around the world swap the inside for the outside and take learning into the playground and beyond to make playtime a key part of the school day. This might involve using natural objects like twigs and stones to do sums, building a den to encourage teamwork, or going on a bug hunt to stimulate curiosity.

Engaging with the natural world teaches children valuable life skills:

For many children playtime is the best part of the school day: perhaps surprisingly it can also be one of the most important. Scientific studies show that Real Play—the active, physical, self-directed play that makes school yards appear so chaotic—is critical to children developing key life skills that are not taught elsewhere. Few would question the value of cultivating resilience, creativity, leadership, resourcefulness, and curiosity—all skills learned through the energetic and unstructured interaction of kids with each other and their surroundings.

Although Outdoor Classroom Day has officially passed, it really needs to be celebrated almost every day.

When you think about it, most of the events described in the Bible took place outdoors. See for other reasons to explore God’s created world.

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