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Outdoor Play

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Dear Debi,
I have a 2-year-old daughter who loves going outdoors. I try to take her to the playground & to the beach as much as I can. What are the benefits to her playing outside?
Lyn Harris
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
Host
  • Allow infants & toddlers to explore the natural world using all their senses
  • Make sure the environment is safe & secure
  • Participate with your children in their outdoor activities
Expert Advice
Joshua Alvarez
Joshua Alvarez
Early Childhood Educator
Outdoor play is very important for the development of babies and toddlers. It's one of the best ways for kids to develop their motor skills and also their physical skills.

Children benefit greatly from playing outside. It's an extension of what they learn inside the home or day care. If they are learning language, for example, you can extend that education outdoors and use things in the environment to teach them those language skills. For example, you can take your child for a walk and point to things in nature and say the words.

I don't think children are ever too young to play outdoors; even infants can play outdoors. It's also very important that they are supervised at all times and that their environment is safe. When going outdoors with babies and toddlers, make sure the equipment they play on is safe. Define a space with a blanket if they're younger, and use sunscreen if they're not allergic to it.

Finally, remember that it's very important that adults participate in outdoor play with children. It shows them that we have an interest in what they're doing and that we care about them. It's also a great opportunity for us as adults to get to know our kids and their likes and dislikes.
Child Care Provider Comments
Joanna Velarde
Joanna Velarde
Mother of two
My son loves climbing through tunnels, which is helping to develop his motor skills. Children love textures. My son loves to play in the parks and in playgrounds that have sand. He loves to scoop up the sand and put water in it and pack it down really tightly. Children need to get out and explore nature and expand their skills and vocabulary. Outdoor play is also a good time for teachable moments.
Ashlee Durr
Ashlee Durr
Cares for her niece and nephews
Following your child's lead is very important. I encourage outdoor play by allowing the children to show me what they would like to do. If they want to play on the swings or do group games, I let them take the lead. I observe and play along with them, which allows them to be free.
Verdis Ferraro
Verdis Ferraro
Child care provider for 23 years
In order to provide a safe environment outdoors, we monitor the area to see if anything dangerous is around. The play area is in the front yard at my center so you don't know what you will find. Anything can be tossed into the yard. You just have to keep your eyes open. We always scout the area before the kids come out. We also look out for broken toys. As we pick them up, we look closely at them. A broken toy could damage their mouths and their hands.

Ball Toss Game Featured Activity:
Ball Toss Game
Sun Protection Featured Video:
Sun Protection
Topic: Play & Creativity
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Resources
The Child Care Connection
1-800-KIDS-793
National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies
PBS Parents
Playing for Keeps
 
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