Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The Importance of Outdoor Play


Samuel making a pine cone bird feeder

Outdoor play at school is widely seen as a purely recreational activity—a chance for kids to take a break from their studies. This time is typically short (20 minutes, on average), and is often dependent on favorable weather conditions. But there is a case to be made for children to spend more time outside during the school day as they develop a multitude of valuable skills from being in nature.


Give children access to fallen tree branches and watch as they construct a lean-to shelter with sheer determination. They exercise teamwork and problem-solving as they experiment with various arrangements to ensure the structure is stable. When setbacks occur, children rise to the challenge, excited to see their project to completion instead of being overcome by frustration.


Pine cones, twigs and rocks may not seem like much to an adult, but to a child, they are the beginnings of a medieval village or a game of tic-tac-toe. These “toys” found in nature provide endless opportunities for students to use their imagination.


Nature gives children the space to slow down and marvel in all its wonder. Examining leaves, noticing seasonal changes and witnessing a bird build its nest are all examples of how nature teaches children to pay attention, ask questions and draw conclusions. The discoveries students make outdoors can leave a lasting impression on their time at private elementary school Waltham MA.

Motor Skills

Children are able to move in a variety of ways outside. Jumping over logs, running through fields and climbing trees foster the development of gross motor skills.

When students engage in nature-based activities such as pouring sand or digging for worms, they are building fine motor skills that will transfer to the classroom when they need to use scissors or hold a pencil.


To paraphrase the Scandinavian quote, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” When children are able to play outdoors in any season, they learn to dress appropriately for the weather.

Children’s work is play, and nature is the ultimate playground—abound with opportunities for enjoyable and meaningful learning.

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