The Role of Outdoor Play in School Readiness  

The transition from nursery to school is a huge step for children as well as their parents. The social, emotional, physical, and intellectual state of the child plays a critical role in making this transition smooth and successful. This is where the term school readiness comes in. A ‘school ready’ child is developmentally prepared to learn and is more likely to perform better in school. Also, these kids are socially able, inquisitive, confident, and happy. Most importantly, there is a high chance of this success continuing into their adulthood.    

One of the best ways to help children learn and absorb new information is to engage them in outdoor play. This is the time for a child to explore his or her natural environment. They can climb trees, make mud pies, build sand castles, run around, and find out more about different natural elements around them.  These activities not only inspire creativity and imagination, but also create a way for children to socialise and learn new skills.  

Some important skills children can pick-up through outdoor play is discussed below. Each of these skills is extremely important for school readiness.  

Social Skills:  

  • Outdoor play encourages children to interact with other children, which helps develop their social skills.  
  • While playing in playgrounds and parks, children get exposed to several external elements that help promote inquisitiveness in them. Also, while interacting with wider range of age groups, children from various backgrounds come together to solve problems and bond based on their common interests.  
  • During outdoor play, kids often collaborate to engage in role play or overcome obstacles. This helps develop teamwork skills, which can be an asset in school as well as their adulthood.  

Emotional Development: 

  • Engaging in outdoor play helps learn invaluable lifetime lessons such as making friends, sharing, following guidelines, patience, and dealing with feelings such as irritation or frustration.  
  • By praising and rewarding good behaviour while playing outdoor, parents and teachers can help children develop confidence and readiness to take on new challenges.  
  • By solving problems and achieving targets, children understand the value of hard-work and determination in achieving life goals.  
  • By playing with other children, kids become more sensitive to the feelings and needs of others.  This quality can be extremely useful while transitioning to school.  

Cognitive Development: 

  • The outdoor environment encourages curiosity, inquisitiveness, and explorative learning in children by stimulating multiple senses.  
  • By participating in outdoor play, children acclimatise to the changing environment around them and develop flexible thinking.  
  • Outdoor play requires children to evaluate different situations and make important decisions, which leads to their cognitive growth.  

Language Skills: 

  • While playing, children express their amazement and feelings by engaging in conversations with other children. 
  • Chats during outdoor play helps boost language and intellectual skills.  
  • Activities such as drawing letters in the sand or interactive boards are extremely effective in teaching literacy to children.  

If you are worried about your child’s school readiness, please feel free to get in touch with the expert educators at Valley Heights Preschool Long Day Care Centre.