Children Need Active Outside Play

Children Need Active Outside Play
It’s a Friday afternoon and the kids are getting stir crazy.  They’re running in circles between the kitchen and living room and I’m struggling to tidy up books, paints, and apple peels.  We homeschool and we love it, but let’s be real - sometimes the days feel long come Friday at 3pm.  Today was one of those days.

“Hey guys, let’s head out to the backyard and play a game of Dodgeball,” I suggest.

Within a moment all three have thrown their shoes on and are racing to the leaf-covered back yard, hollering and whooping.  For a good 30 minutes, we run, we yell, we laugh and we get a little crazy.  I can literally see their moods change as they expel their energy.  Their bodies loosen, their dispositions morph, their faces even look more relaxed.  When we finished playing, we headed back inside for a hot chocolate and several books around the kitchen table.  The kids were calm, content, and much more agreeable.

Sometimes, a good dose of outside activity is all kids need.

But in our culture, countless children are missing out on this crucial outside play time.  They’re over-scheduled, often very inactive, and almost always on media overload.

The truth is, there are so many benefits to outdoor play for children.  The good it does for them should not be ignored, but so often is.  I haven’t got this thing down by any means, but I want to make it a goal of mine to actually schedule outdoor game time.  Every day.  Not just throw it in when I see the children melting down – actually actively seek out great games and activities and implement them into our weekly schedule.  I already know what wonders it will do for our children.  These times are different from nature walks and Nature Study times which are often more reflective, calm outdoor activities (walking by a stream, picking apples, sketching a bird).   No, we’re talking about times of very active, fun, energetic games where children are allowed (and encouraged) to get a little crazy.

Charlotte Mason talks about this kind of play, and its benefits, in Volume One of the original Homeschooling Series: 

“The afternoons’ games after luncheon are an important part of the day’s doings… the more they run, and shout, and toss their arms, the more healthful is the play.”

In fact, she suggested children spend several hours outdoors every afternoon.  She also advocated quite heavily for allowing children to be loud, to run hard, and to play enthusiastically.  Of course, this is done in the right context and at the right time.  She isn’t suggesting a lack of discipline, but quite the opposite.  For everything, there is a time.  And children need a time get a little silly.  They are, after all, kids.

Active, outdoor play also gives children a chance to breathe fresh air, bringing much needed fresh oxygen into the body.  They’ll also have the opportunity to release stress as they get their heart rate up.  The acts of running, shouting, and getting rowdy will also allow children to release energy from their little bodies, enabling them to better focus and learn later on.

It’s not always convenient to play outside games and activities and get silly with the children.  But, I will say, it has unending benefits for both the kids AND the parents.  As I play with them, I can feel my stress levels dropping and my energy coming back to me.  It’s a time of renewal for all.  Let’s endeavor to spend more time encouraging our children and ourselves to get outside and get active!

Yes, Children Need Active Outside Play to Get Them Content and Refreshed!!

Does your family have any favorite outside active games?

Blessings, Cassandra

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  1. Shonda Knowlton says

    This is one of the hardest areas for me. Our yard consists of a HUGE garden, a carport and a very small patch of grass. There is really no running space, but lots of exploring space. I have a 2 year old girl and 5 year old boy. I spent the summer going to a different park every week which was fun, but also very exhausting. My kids don’t actually run around even when I try to get them to play chase, but at home they are bouncing off the walls. Right now the weather is so cold and rainy that we are indoors mostly and even if there is a day to go out I don’t. I’m lucky to plan one outdoor activity for the week. I feel terrible about this. I’m not an outdoor person at all and I guess I’m just depriving my kids. I feel like if we go outside, I can never get them to come back in and I can’t let them play outside alone. I have so much that I need to do in the house and yes, I know I need to not do so much, but I honestly barely have enough time to get meals, wash clothes and make sure the bathroom is sanitary. Also, I don’t let my kids watch TV so they are pretty active indoors, but the weather where I live is mostly dreary all winter so going outside is NO fun for anyone. But I will try to incorporate it as much as I can.

    • alicia says

      I agree with what you are saying about it being a real time commitment. Also, my oldest is 7 and I have a 6 mo. old so it is really difficult to get the older one good outside time especially when the weather is less than ideal. I feel guilt bc I know it’s important.

  2. Kalonda says

    I have a two year old little girl and a two month old son. My daughter loves being outside. We frequent quite a few parks around our city. If we can’t go to th park, we will just go outside our house. Our yard is relatively small but we live in a cul de sac so it’s a fairly safe place for her to push her stroller or ride her little cars. She also likes to explore. She will bring me “interesting” sticks and flowers that she finds and I “ooo” and “ahh” over them :) She also loves animals, so we spend quite a bit of time pretending to be monkeys and elephants and dinosaurs. And sometimes I will turn on the music on my iPhone and we will have a good old praise party! Sometimes she does get upset when it’s time to leave, but most of the time I schedule outside time right before nap so she often gets tired and hungry and doesn’t mind leaving for lunch and a nap. If she doesn’t look like she is winding down on her own then I will let her know 15 minutes before we leave that it’s almost time to go. Then I will remind her every five minutes until we leave. This seems to work better than trying to pull her away with no warning.

    Kalonda @

  3. Amy says

    I totally agree. I have 5 loud boys. I send them outside to get he loudness out of them and they sleep better I think too. Now if I can just get them to switch from summer attire to fall, we’d be okay…

  4. Sarah Wiley says

    What about when it’s so cold and windy and snowy outside, like it currently is this moment for my family. My two girls are 1 and 3 and both have colds. Outside is not an option right now. But, I know they still have lots of energy that needs an outlet. Any suggestions?

    • Natasha says

      My kiddos were going nuts with all the rainy weather we have been having, so I let them ride bikes and scooters in the garage with the door open. They could also do chalk, bubbles, and roller skates in the garage or a carport. My friend has scooters that she lets her kids ride in the house…not sure what she does when they crash into the walls…hope this helps! It sure helped me get the kiddos energy out! There’s lots you could do at public pavilions, if you have them in your area.

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