How Can Time Outdoors Build Social Skills in Children?

In his best-selling book Last Child in the Woods, nature author Richard Louv notes that nature is key for child development, since it has the ability to calm, transport, and inspire the mind. However, nature has an added effect that people sometimes fail to comprehend. It inspires social interaction, and plays an important role in keeping groups together – according to a study published in the journal BioScience. If you have booked a fun play day with the team at Pop Up Play Village and you’d like to make the most of the social side of outdoor play, ask about the Outdoor Explorers adventures. These fun play dates invite children to get closer to nature, investigate the world around them, and enjoy each other’s company as they take part in team activities.

Why does Nature Unite?

In the study above, researchers found that regardless of gender, age, and socio-economic status, higher contact with nature led to greater social cohesion. Interestingly, they noted that the amount of green space in a community accounted for a significant variance in crime rates. There is, indeed, a good reason why activities to help people bond as a team are so often organised in open spaces. A 2015 University of British Columbia study found that ‘risky’ or energetic outdoor play is not only good for human health, but rather, it also fosters creativity, resilience, and social skills. This study was carried out on children, who benefited greatly while jumping, climbing, and tumble playing in the company of others. “These spaces give children a chance to learn about risk and learn about their own limits,” said scientists. However, they also give people of all ages a chance to teach and learn from others taking part in the same activities.

Ditching the Screen, Making Friends

Scientists from the University of Strathclyde found that if you really want to reduce obesity rates and get kids to play together instead of alone on a screen, you should take them outdoors more. The researchers, who noted that children spend far more than the recommended two hours’ free time a day playing on electronic devices, found that children benefit socially from playing outdoor with others. They also became more active, improved their academic performance, and reduced their risk of obesity. It is fantastic to think that in the Great Outdoors, people can enjoy so much free space yet seek each other’s company. This is the magic that nature wields.

Access to outdoor play is an important part of a child’s development. Researchers from all over the globe have recommended that children be encouraged to play in nature alongside other children, since doing so boosts pro-social behaviour, among many other benefits. When children are outside, they are more creative, daring, and collaborative. If you are a parent, make sure to join your children on their outdoor escapades. Nature has power stress-busting effects, which is something most adults could probably use in their lives.

Written by Kylee Young