While watching a presentation on outdoor play, the presenter showed us two pictures side by side. One picture was a child playing a video game where a digital character was jumping over logs. The other picture was a child outside on a playground jumping over real logs along with other children. Which child was learning more? You guessed it! The child running and jumping on the playground!
Outdoor play with gross motor movements, or “big body play,” such as jumping over obstacles helps children on so many levels. Physically, children are exercising, learning how to use their bodies, and learning how to interact with the objects and nature around them. Children engaging in big body play are not only exercising their bodies, they are exercising their social-emotional skills. In other words, through big body play, children are learning how to interact with the people around them. For example, in the picture of the children on the playground, the jumping children were running, talking, and laughing together, learning how to communicate with each other and share the game.
Return for Part 2 of “Make the JUMP!” to learn other ways outdoor big body play helps children.