The Importance of Outdoor Play

The Importance of Outdoor Play

Dear Friends,

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to walk down to our garden area and watch our 8th graders and their Kindergarten buddies spread mulch; clean-up the vegetable gardens and flower beds; and plant a variety of native species/plants, in the ongoing experience of Campus Stewardship. Despite the wet conditions, the kids had a ball working with faculty, staff, and our friends from Earth Corps.

As I watched the kids work, I was reminded of an article that a colleague recently shared with me entitled, There’s a Reason They Call it the Great Outdoors! The article, published by the National Wildlife Federation, noted the sundry benefits of having children work and play outside (in an unstructured manner) on a regular basis. The article offered a number of documented “boosts” to a child’s body, mind & spirit when they are connected to the natural world, including:

Body:

  • Outdoor play increases fitness levels and builds active, healthy bodies, an important strategy in helping the one in three American kids who are obeseget fit.
  • Spending time outside raises levels of Vitamin D, helping protect children from future bone problems, heart disease, diabetes and other health issues.
  • Being outdoors improves distance vision and lowers the chance of nearsightedness.

Mind:

  • Exposure to natural settings may be widely effective in reducing ADHD symptoms.
  • Schools with environmental education programs score higher on standardized tests in math, reading, writing and listening.
  • Exposure to environment-based education significantly increases student performance on tests of their critical thinking skills.

Spirit:

  • Children’s stress levels fall within minutes of seeing green spaces.
  • Play protects children’s emotional development whereas loss of free time and a hurried lifestyle can contribute to anxiety and depression.
  • Nature makes you nicer, enhancing social interactions — a value for community and close relationships.

Our beautiful campus, and the many ways it serves our students and families, greatly contributes to the entire Villa Experience.

John Milory, Head of School