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Buzz At Bob's Article - Go! Play Outside!
Go! Play Outside!- Learning Through Play

A few years ago, you’d see so many children playing outdoors. They’d have the time of their lives rolling in snow or jumping in a pile of autumn leaves. They’d pick up rocks and examine them. They’d look for caterpillars, chase butterflies, and catch grasshoppers. These were the days when kids were kids, and they played in nature’s rough yet interesting and grand bosom.

Nowadays, it’s seldom that you’ll see children running after frogs or investigating riverbanks. Instead, they are cooped up in their rooms playing World of Warcraft or some other video game. Even toddlers today are very adept at tapping and sliding their chubby and nibble fingers on tablets and smartphones with touch-sensitive screens. There’s nothing wrong with being a tech savvy kid, but parents should also encourage their kids to play or do activities outdoors as these help in their overall development.

5 Skills That Are Further Developed Through Outdoor Activities : Learning Through Play
How do outdoor activities encourage physical, mental and emotional development? During every stage of a child’s life, he also develops and masters certain skills. Environmental stimulation can further promote the development of such skills. Below are some examples and some great options we have here at the Bob L. Burger Recreation Center.

Sensorimotor Skills:
Sensorimotor skills include the functions of the sensory and motor systems. The sensorimotor skills of infants (0 to 12 months old) and toddlers (1 to 3 years old) are further enhanced if they are exposed to interesting things in the environment. For example, infants are often drawn to certain sounds, and a chirping bird can definitely pique their interest. As for toddlers, they further develop their locomotor skills when they are encouraged to walk, run, grasp and touch. During this stage, kids are very curious and they like to explore.
The JUMPBUNCH program is an ideal introduction to sports and fitness activities for children who are 15 months - 11 years old.  Using an approach that inegrates the physical and mental aspects of each lesson; children will have a chance to see, touch and experience each sport.

Physical Strength:
Yes, even children need to exercise as this builds muscle strength. Outdoor activities, like running, walking, climbing or swinging on monkey bars, are encouraged, but make sure that they are safe and supervised. For toddlers and preschoolers, provide at least an hour of unstructured activities so that they can investigate and experiment while exerting themselves. You can also rotate activities so that your child won’t feel overly tired. For instance, when going on a walk, bring his stroller too so that he can sit down and rest once he feels exhausted.
Our Gymnastics program is great for developing strengh, flexibility and body awareness.  Our newest program, Gym Babies, is geared for toddlers through 2½ years as a fun introduction to gymnastics equipment and movement. 

Social Development:
Playing with other kids his age can help in developing your child’s social skills. Remember that play is the primary language of children. Through playing different games, they learn and develop so many vital characteristics, including empathy, adaptability, cooperation, analysis, and responsibility, to name a few. This is why group play and group activities are encouraged. So, tell your child to play with other kids in your backyard. Maybe you can even have a small playhouse where they can play safely. Or have him participate in group activities. A trip to a museum or to Yellowstone Bear World, or to any place that is both interesting and educational, will expose kids to history and nature. Hopefully, such experiences will not only build their social skills, but these will also give them opportunities to appreciate and to further understand their world.
Discover new adventures in our Summer Camps!  Our Preschool Summer Fun Camp for 3-5 year olds is a natural extension to the preschool experience.  Older children attending our Summer Day Camp will learn through hands-on adventures in our weekly camp sessions.  Each week has a different theme full of fun games, creative crafts, swimming and off-site field trips! 

“Mom, look at me! I am running so fast!” Kids feel a sense of accomplishment after finishing or doing a simple task, like building a castle in the sand or simply being able to run from one end of a basketball court to the other. By recognizing their accomplishments, you help in building up their self-confidence.
The way to build a child’s self-esteem is by teaching them how to set goals, work hard, accomplish tasks, understand the body, and learn from failure.   Introducing your child to sports is just one of the ways they can build these skills. We have a variety of options, from T-Ball and Softball, to our popular Soccer, Tennis and Flag Football programs. 

When outdoors, there are so many different kinds of stimuli that will definitely make your child curious. His curiosity will drive him to ask questions, and the answers will help him to understand certain things. If he is often outside, he is also able to explore, scrutinize and investigate just about anything that he can get his hands on, and all of these will broaden his awareness.
At the BBRC, we have some great summer programs that focus on imagination and creativity.  Do your kids love LEGO®, then try our Art of Lego or Play-Well Engineering classes.  Crafty kids will love the Harmony's A.C.T. offerings this summer.  For girls who are interested in Science and Technology, STEMgirls programs expose them to hands-on activities with peers and access to local/national mentors to feed the pipeline for future female STEM professionals! 

Article by Claire Bronson for www.parentinginformer.com
January 21, 2014

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