The impact of COVID-19 on young people’s health and well-being and how physical activity and outdoor play plays a key role in their recovery.
How Has Home Learning Affected Children?
Since most children use on-screen learning as their main source of education during covid, they may have experienced significant mental and physical health detriments. Professionals and parents are worried about the amount of time children spend indoors with family members.
Staying largely indoors and with minimum contact with the outside world puts a lot of strain on growing minds and bodies. Many feel that kids have missed out on important time spent playing and socialising with friends.
The Importance of Outdoor Play
The global outbreak of COVID-19 has resulted in closure of gyms, stadiums, pools, dance studios, parks, and playgrounds. Young people have particularly been affected by social and physical distancing.
Sport and outdoor play are commonly used to encourage cooperation, sportsmanship, and teamwork. They also promote respect and help encourage conflict resolution. Without sport programmes and access to playgrounds, many young people are losing the support system that plays such a key role in these areas of development.
The Benefits for Children
Transmission is less likely outdoors
In comparison to sharing an indoor space, being outside has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of covid-19 transmission.
Using physical distancing practices outdoors is safe and recommended because being indoors increases your risk for contracting a virus, such as being in close contact with the sick and being in a dry environment.
Our immune systems are boosted by outdoor exercise
Getting outside increases physical activity, reduces screen time, and improves sleep- all of these things make our immune systems stronger and increase our defence against COVID-19 and any other health threat.
By getting outside, we become more exposed to vitamin D through sunlight, which can boost immunity and reduce the rate of infection. Recent studies suggest that physical activity seems to protect the body against the effects of severe covid symptoms.
Being outside is crucial to maintaining your physical and mental health, especially for children. When children are outside, they are more active which is crucial to maintaining your physical and mental health.
Building a sense of community and reducing loneliness
It is important to maintain your physical distance to avoid transmission. However, you can carefully do so while staying connected to the environment by spending time in nature, walking around your neighbourhood, or playing with kids. These are all activities that are good for your mental health.
Improving mental and physical health
Kids who play outdoors feel more in control, and are encouraged to take responsibility for their own actions, which is important for acquiring social and emotional skills. Play is also needed by children to help process and relieve emotion when they are facing adversity and stress.
What Can Be Done?
After 18 months in which young people have missed out on so much, outdoor play and physical activity plays a key role in their recovery from this Global Pandemic. Researchers have highlighted the mental health implications of restricting outdoor recreation opportunities for young people and the need to increase access to the outdoors.Kids need that outdoor connection to feel safe and secure, but they are constantly being told to stay inside. When outside, they have more freedom to play and develop their health and well-being as well as their social needs.
What Schools Can Do To Help
On their return to school, schools can provide this support by reintroducing outdoor learning through play.
Among the many positive effects of learning outdoors is developing a child's self-esteem, resolving conflicts, fostering relationships with their peers, solving problems, boosting their motivation to learn and improving their behaviour in class, with the end result of better performance on academic tests.
A well designed and stimulating outdoor play area makes a significant contribution to providing young people with the opportunities they need to play and therefore manage the stresses that the current crisis has created.
Ideas to encourage outdoor play:
1. Outdoor Classrooms and learning shelters
Our Outdoor Classrooms and shelters are perfect for taking smaller groups of students for an outside lesson. These can be situated in nature or placed outside the classroom to act as an outside extension.
These are great for providing the opportunity for free-flowing play throughout the year in addition to extra space for your classroom.
2. Active Play and Sports Equipment
In addition to supporting fundamental movement skills, our products will help initiate a lifelong love of activity in children as they traverse our Trim Trails and climb over our Jungle Climbers.
Important skills such as team work, balance, problem solving, and coordination can all be developed as part of active play. This can be done in smaller groups or as a whole class when working together.
3. Imaginative and Creative Play
Children could benefit from our Imagination and Creative Playground Equipment, such as dens and mud kitchens, by learning about animals, insects, and plants like those found in the natural world and how to care for them.
Children can experience nature and be outside in their own science lab in this engaging hands-on learning resource.
4. Landscape & Surfacing
Surfaces and landscaping are essential components of any playground design. A change in texture and surface helps to create new sensations when walking and makes outdoor play more stimulating.
Choose the best playground surface for your students, and you'll ensure a safe and fun play area for them all year round that encourages their imaginations and creativity.
Let dbdplay Help
When we increase children’s outdoor play, they become more likely to have a positive relationship with nature, become physically fit, be more social, reduce their stress and anxiety, and be more likely to be willing to learn. The benefits of integrating the outdoors into their weekly lesson plans are endless.
Do you need to update your outdoor learning and play environments? Supporting your student’s outdoor play will give you happier, healthier, and more focused kids. Why not get started?
Early Years Advisor and Forest Schools Leader
Originally published Jul 5, 2021 12:26:49 PM , updated February 9, 2023