Why Outdoor Play Is Essential All Year 'Round

You might feel like hibernating in winter, but it's important to get outside and have some fun!

Spending time outside playing and exploring is critical to children’s learning and development all year ‘round. When children are outside, they can connect with nature and explore all it has to offer, and a whole lot of learning opportunities are also presented!

The outside environment and all things within it play a huge role in creating lifelong little learners with bright academic futures. At Genius, our centres are built to support this explorative learning with custom-designed outdoor spaces in each location. Our specialist Garden Guru and Sports Program also support the importance of outdoor play and activity.

Our sports program takes place throughout the year, exploring physical activities which develop healthy mind, bodies and spirits. Genius has also partnered with various sporting teams such as St Kilda football club and Melbourne City to further reinforce this commitment towards health and wellbeing for our children and educator team. Through these partnerships, our little learners explore teamwork, leadership, camaraderie and, of course a deep passion and love for sport.

Our Garden Gurus program is another one of 7 life skills we offer in our centres, helping children appreciate the beauty of the outdoors throughout the year. Activities such as planting, composting, maintaining worm farms and recycling are part of this program. Once herbs and vegetables are grown, they are harvested and given to the in-house chef, who uses them when preparing meals in our centres. This teaches little learners about sustainable practices and where food comes from, and is another way to engage the children outdoors.

Take a look below at some outdoor activities you can incorporate at home!

Outdoor Adventure

Adventurous play outside challenges little ones both physically and mentally. These experiences often occur in nature and push children to challenge their bodies, develop new skills, learn and grow. Genius strongly emphasises the importance and value of daily activities outside to nurture learning and development.

We believe that adventurous fun outside supports the development of healthy and active lifestyles by offering little learners opportunities for physical activity, freedom, movement and promoting a sense of wellbeing. Being in and around nature has also been proven to help anxious or negative feelings by lowering blood pressure and reducing stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Outdoor activities also support problem-solving and social skills, nurture creativity, and provide rich opportunities for developing imagination, inventiveness, resilience and resourcefulness.

You can encourage your little genius to spend time playing outdoors at home by visiting local parks, running, jumping and climbing on equipment. This can help their motor, sensory, social and cognitive development and is excellent for their general health and wellbeing. Bring some bubbles and play some music on your phone to make it an outdoor disco with added benefits!

Water Play

Playing with water offers abundant learning possibilities and a great activity all year round! At Genius Childcare, we encourage our little geniuses to be creative while in nature and explore the environment around them. Our centres have inbuilt water streams and garden areas to promote open-ended fun for our children – even in the cooler months. Most of our beautiful centres have inbuilt water play spaces in every yard, with troughs, pumps, rocky creeks and shallow sensory pools. Perfect for those little learners who enjoy using their imagination to create fantastic watery scenes! Playing in water has many benefits, including connecting with nature, understanding early scientific and mathematic concepts and engaging in shared activities to encourage cooperation.

We use water play to:

  • Develop hand-eye coordination
  • Introduce maths and scientific concepts - pouring, scooping, measuring
  • Enhance concentration and focus
  • Develop motor skills and sensory exploration
  • Build social and communication skills

Gardening Guru’s

Getting into nature with your little learner and getting your green thumbs on promotes learning and development. At Genius, our Gardening Guru's program allows our little geniuses to explore the world around them, learn about how plants grow and understand where their food comes from.

This program's mission is to promote environmental awareness through 'green housekeeping practices' such as healthy eating, gardening, minimising waste, recycling and reducing water and energy consumption. This will assist in developing an understanding and respect for the environment and encourages critical thinking.

At home a simple packet of seeds could form the basis of an outdoor activity that could be extended over a few weeks or months as the plant grows. Clear the area before digging, sowing and watering the seeds and stand back as your plant (hopefully) starts to emerge over time. Even offcuts from your fridge like spring onions are fantastic for planting, and rejuvenating in a pot or your backyard.

Outdoor Sports

Outdoor sports should be enjoyed all year round. Sports incorporating jumping, balance, throwing and running have lifelong benefits for our little learners. Getting out in the environment with your child and playing sports helps develop skills such as coordination, balance, fine and gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

At Genius, our sports program - part of our Life Skills Program - allows for outdoor fun all year round. It is run outside when possible to get that circulation pumping and fresh air ingested – the perfect antidote to cold and lethargic bodies and minds. Exercise outside is also fantastic for emotional regulation. When our children are having a mad or sad moment, a quick physical play outside is great distraction and a wonderful tool for helping them relax and regulate again.

Outdoor play offers benefits in physical development, mindfulness, creativity, self-regulation and good old fun! So rug up today and get outside with the family and enjoy some much-needed vitamin D with a few of these ideas.

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