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According to studies, children under the age of 6 spend about 75% of their waking time in sedentary activities (eg television, screen, stroller). However, all early childhood specialists will tell you that children learn by moving. Our priority should be to get children moving more so that they can benefit from it for their health and promote their development.

To move freely, children need space and the ideal place is outside.

 The benefits of playing outside 

Outdoor games bring many benefits. This is why, from a very young age, it is important to bring children to play outside, in places where they can get dirty, climb, explore and walk on various surfaces. Outdoor games offer various opportunities for children to develop a multitude of skills. For example, the child who climbs on a structure in the park will learn to manage risk taking. Some children will climb to the highest peak they can reach with great pride and others will turn back after a few steps.

Everyone goes at their own pace and does their own learning. Outside, children need an adult, an educator who guides them, encourages them and gives them the freedom to explore. During outdoor games, the youngest will develop their balance by walking on paths where the rocks and the roots of the trees will lead them to concentrate on staying upright and moving forward at their own pace. On a walk outside, a child whose boot gets stuck will learn to solve problems on their own. Outdoor games are also the ideal place to get dirty while having fun!

Plus, by introducing kids to outdoor play early, they'll not only reap the benefits, but make it a lifelong habit.

Where to go to play outside? 

So that children can enjoy the benefits of outdoor games, it is interesting to vary the places to explore. First of all, there is the traditional neighborhood park or the daycare service yard, where children can find safe play structures with various coverings designed to absorb falls. In these places children can climb, have fun and develop their motor skills, but also their social skills, when they have, for example, to negotiate who will be the first to use the swing.

Another interesting place to explore with children is the forest or a park with walking paths. There could even be a community garden near you, where the children would have a lot of fun exploring the trails and observing the flowers and other plants throughout the seasons. Ideally, we let the children guide us in their explorations. For example, we let them choose the path to explore. Children will make interesting discoveries and may collect rocks, leaves and branches. During these excursions, a backpack, filled with snacks and water bottles, will be an essential tool.

Of course, it is the role of the adult to ensure that the paths taken are of appropriate distances so that the challenge offered to the children is adapted to their physical abilities. You will be amazed to see the children walk longer and longer distances, the more they will be used to it, but above all to see their pride in having completed this challenge, looking at the map or returning to the starting point. Feel free to go to open fields or open spaces where children can run, jump and shout at will. These places allow children great freedom of movement, which leads them to develop their motor skills and let off steam.

Rain or shine, a race in the fields allows children to experience a variety of sensations, the wind in their hair, the rain falling on them and the grass rubbing on their pants.


Jeff Theberge

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