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How Outdoor Play can Help Your Child do Better in School

02 Mar, 2017

How Outdoor Play can Help Your Child do Better in School

Schools all over the country have been reducing students’ recess time steadily over the last decade, in some cases completely eliminating it, and it’s seriously impacting academic performance. Fortunately, parents don’t just have to accept this new, detrimental situation for their children. While proper regular breaks throughout the day are obviously ideal, scheduling active after-school play can go a long way toward helping your kids manage during the school day. Here’s how it helps.


  It Reduces Stress and Improves Concentration
 

Being a child is far more stressful than adults generally remember. Constantly absorbing new information and learning new skills requires a lot of focus. This can be very difficult to maintain over long period of time. Even as adults, we would never consider keeping our heads down and working without mental breaks all day; that’s why coffee machines and water coolers are always well-populated.

By the time children get home after school, they’re mentally exhausted and unable to think. Don’t force them to sit down and do their homework immediately after school, but rather allow time for unstructured active outdoor play such as going on their favorite outdoor swing. Going outside and letting loose allows kids to unwind and reset their minds before they have to go back to their studies.


  Social Development Builds Motivation
 

Learning is tough when you don’t like being at school. Because of this, building healthy social relationships with peers is an important part of becoming a successful and motivated student. Children shouldn’t reasonably be expected to treasure knowledge and learning for their own sake, and those values are difficult to cultivate until your child has some positive connection to their educational environment, and the other people in it. Traditionally, kids had the opportunity to develop these relationships at recess. Today, on the other hand, they might need a helping hand from a parent.

Give your little ones the opportunity to interact with schoolmates in an unstructured environment like the local playground. This allows them to engage in self-organized cooperative play that helps them to develop strong and meaningful friendships without the interference of a managing authority figure. The motivation and support that these friends provide for each other extends well beyond simple games.


  Exercise Helps Kids Manage ADD
 

Ensuring that your kids play outside and get regular exercise can help to keep them off potentially unnecessary medications. Specifically, lack of exercise exacerbates attention issues among kids who are trying to manage ADD or ADHD. Physical exercise functions as a natural way to stimulate the release of dopamine in the brain, which helps many kids to control their symptoms with less or sometimes even no medication. This is because it actually mimics the effects of regular stimulant medications for attention disorders, which artificially raise dopamine levels to achieve a similar and more pronounced result.

Though nothing can quite make up for the loss of proper breaks throughout the day, you can make a difference for your kids. Providing them the chance to play freely on their own terms in an active environment gives them a break from school related stressors, and helps them to concentrate better and develop in a healthier and more well-rounded manner.

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