Why Outdoor Play Boosts Productivity and Development

It’s no secret that kids love heading for the playground as soon as they’re released for recess. It’s one part of their school day that’s within their control — they can play with their friends, be creative, and take a break from studying. However, recess is more than just a fun break. Regular outdoor play is integral in a student’s development and often leads to improved academic performance inside the classroom.

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Benefits of Outdoor Recess

Many students look forward to recess all day long — but playgrounds serve as more than a pleasant break from the classroom. They encourage children to be active while engaging in helpful socialization with one another. Playgrounds and recess are also where many students begin to form their identity and develop essential life skills.

Playgrounds at schools are beneficial because they help promote:

1. Physical Activity

According to a study conducted by a journal of child and adolescent health in conjunction with the World Health Organization, 81 percent of elementary-age students don’t engage in enough physical activity. With childhood obesity on the rise, it’s more important than ever to help students develop a strong foundation for daily exercise.

Playgrounds encourage children to engage in active play and build important motor skills, like:

  • Balance
  • Agility
  • Coordination
  • Speed
  • Reaction time
  • Strength

The playground is also where many students find a natural talent or interest in sports or exercise, which encourages them to pursue those interests outside of school hours.

2. Social Development

The ability to navigate group settings is crucial for the social development of a child. Playgrounds offer an equal meeting place for children of different backgrounds and experiences to come together. Through play, children learn how to communicate with their peers and learn valuable skills, such as:

  • Compromise
  • Understanding
  • Compassion
  • Conflict resolution
  • Language
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Sharing
  • Self-regulation

Children carry these social skills into their teenage and adult years. The more social skills a child has, the better they can express themselves. According to some psychologists, children who develop a strong social foundation at a young age are more likely to overcome challenges and understand when and how to ask for help as they get older. Those social relationships also translate into the classroom, where students learn how to interact with teachers and peers in a more productive, respectful way.

3. Self-Identity and Development

Children approach the playground with a sense of curiosity. They choose how and where they want to play. The ability to try new things and exercise creativity allows students to develop their own interests, talents, abilities and preferences.

Many athletes, for example, first discovered their love for a sport when they picked up a ball on the playground. Many of today’s leaders probably got their start in leadership while forming groups and interacting with peers on the playground. While children establish this stronger sense of self, they’re also learning how to be more self-confident in those abilities; this leads to stronger self-esteem and, in return, healthier mental health habits.

How Outdoor Play Improves Academic Performance

The individual benefits of playgrounds at schools are clear, but did you know playgrounds also help a child’s productivity? Studies show that outdoor play can improve a student’s academic performance inside the classroom by promoting:

1. Higher Levels of Focus

Outdoor play promotes productivity in the classroom. According to one study, 95% of teachers surveyed agree that recess improves their students’ social interactions, and 78% indicated that their students are more focused and ready to learn when they return from their recess break. Every teacher surveyed agreed that recess is an essential part of a young student’s mental and physical development.

Think about the last time you concentrated on a particular task for a long time without pause; chances are, you felt overwhelmed, possibly even discouraged. Regular breaks are essential for absorbing and retaining information, and students who get to participate in recess often demonstrate higher levels of focus than those who don’t.

According to one study, children who played on playground equipment during recess showed a significant increase in both sustained attention and creativity in the class directly following their break, compared to other students who saw little to no change. In fact, this same study questions whether multiple breaks throughout the school day could lead to an even more increased focus in students.

This change in attention is likely due to the ability to physically move around while being exposed to plenty of sunlight and brain-boosting Vitamin D. Studies demonstrate that spending time outdoors leads to increased levels of happiness and concentration.

2. Less Stress

Another way outdoor play is helping productivity in students is by making stress more manageable. Today, students often feel an overwhelming amount of pressure in school, whether it’s from parents, teachers, coaches, or even pressure they place on themselves. This stress can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as cheating or refusal to participate in activities. It can also cause burnout and low academic performance.

Outdoor play is a regularly scheduled break in this stress that students look forward to. It gives children a chance to pause, think clearly, and focus on engaging with their peers and the world around them. Physical activity and exercise release endorphins and hormones that alleviate the adverse side effects of stress and promote healthy self-esteem.

3. More Learning Opportunities

Outdoor play is an excellent opportunity for children to interact with nature. In a society where screen time is a growing concern, the time children are spending outdoors is less than it was years ago. Nature is full of valuable lessons, especially for young learners. Nature also stimulates a child’s senses, enriching their view of the world — they can hear the birds sing, smell the flowers bloom, and feel the wind blow. The more time a child spends playing outdoors, the more likely they are to grow into responsible and environmentally-conscious adults.

Contact a Little Tikes Commercial Today

Engaging in regular outdoor play helps children develop essential life skills, including the ability to socialize and overcome challenges. Playgrounds promote outdoor play and are an easy way to keep children physically active while combatting stress and improving focus inside the classroom.

Little Tikes Commercial doesn’t just provide playgrounds — we help parents and educators provide children with memorable, formative experiences. Our playgrounds are designed to engage children in fun and interactive ways, with no compromise to the safety and durability of our products. Every piece of equipment is rigorously tested to meet and exceed safety standards.

To learn more about Little Tikes Commercial playgrounds and equipment, find a representative near you.