Courtney Pitts | 4/14/2009 7:49:53 PM
Summer is a time of relaxation and rejuvenation, but it’s also a time to keep children’s minds and bodies active through outdoor play and exploration.
Outdoor play is an important part of children’s growth and development, according to LSU AgCenter child care associate Courtney Pitts. It allows a child a first-hand experience with nature and offers ample room for children to explore the open-air with little adult interference.
“Children need to develop large muscle coordination through active movement, which outdoor play can provide,” Pitts said, explaining that outdoor play includes walking, running, climbing, skipping, hopping, throwing, catching, digging, water sports and bike or trike riding.
Normal indoor activities also can be brought outside for new perspectives and inspiration. Story time, art, music, dramatic play, action figures and puppets all lend themselves to being set up outside.
The outdoors offers science opportunities, too. A whole host of natural things can be explored and inspected, such as leaves, tree bark, grass, sand, flowers, plants and even ant hills.
Talk is an important part of children’s play. When youngsters team up with friends or adults as they explore, those interactions can open up new discoveries.
Pitts cautions, however, that supervision is part of outdoor play. Children should be offered a wide variety of outdoor activities and fascinating things to explore but always with parents nearby in case any safety issues arise.
Other activities that will get children away from the television this summer include cooking a favorite dish together, visiting a museum or zoo and doing arts and crafts.
Editor: Mark Claesgens
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture