There are many important reasons for taking children outdoors, whatever the weather (providing no safety hazards such as dramatic wind conditions and storms present themselves). Here are just a few:
- Some research shows that children learn more when in natural light.
- There is enormous opportunity for learning. Weather, trees, clouds, wind, rain, seasons, fire engines, garbage trucks, squirrels, rocks, ice patches, and insects are all there. It's a world of wonders for children, who these days are inside for greater and greater lengths of time. Schools bear increasing responsibility for making sure children experience what's out there.
- American children are increasingly overweight, partly due to lack of exercise. The habit of regular gross-motor activity is, like other good habits, best established in childhood.
- To properly develop coordination and muscles, children need practice. Active, vigorous play develops a wide range of motor-coordination skills.
- Most children are healthier with regular outside play. A combination of exercise and fresh air refreshes children's spirits and bodies. Keep in mind that children with asthma require modifications of the "outdoors-every day" routine.
- Routine itself makes children's lives more manageable to them. Make going out a certainty rather than an uncertainty.
- The play space should be as hospitable to teachers as it is to children. Nature is healing to everyone-increase its presence in your play area. As a species, we evolved in nature and seem "hard-wired" to respond positively to it. Gardens, bushes, trees, small animals, and insects (butterflies and ants at least) interest, please, and restore us,
- Finally, where will the next generation of environmentally aware adults come from if today's children don't experience the outdoor environment?