Outdoor time as important as “academics” for preschoolers

Ever have one of those days where no toy is good enough, and you think you’ll lose it if you hear the “B” word (bored) one more time? Before you start uttering some choice words yourself, try this simple solution: get outside. It works every time, and not just on kids; many a lazy Sunday has been transformed for families just by stepping into fresh air.

Given how good time outside is for everyone, it seems like a no-brainer that it would be part of all preschool and daycare programs. Sadly, this isn’t the case. According to CBS News, researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre have proven that only three in 10 children in full-day child care programs get at least 60 minutes outdoors. While some effort was made to ensure indoor physical activity, the outdoor time just didn’t measure up.

Says Dr. Kristen Copeland, a researcher in the Division of General and Community Pediatrics, “This study shows if you do give outdoor time, children will be more physically active.” The article notes that this active time is crucial to children when it comes to boosting heart and bone health, preventing obesity, and improvements in mood and attentiveness. Copeland heartily agrees, noting, “daily activity is essential for children’s growth and development.”

Copeland also notes that many parents prioritize academics over outdoor time, but she maintains that there is a different kind of learning in physical activity, adding, “gross motor skills are so key. Kids this age are learning to skip, throw a ball. Those skills are just as important as learning their letters and learning about math.”

So when you’re looking for a preschool for your child, or any child care scenario, make sure that you’re choosing somewhere that makes quality outdoor time a priority. If you’re not sure what questions to ask of child care providers here’s a list to get you started.

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