A recent article by Dr Claire McCarthy in Harvard Health Publishing detailed six reasons why children need to have fun outside, emphasising the benefits of outdoor play.
Pushpa Venkatraman discusses the thinking … and why the ‘outdoors’ is a great option in Singapore this summer holiday.
Dr. McCarthy wrote about sunshine – necessary for sun exposure and Vitamin D, for bone development and that of the immune system, and for regularising circadian rhythms. Outdoor exercise contributed to active play and trumped any indoor activity. Socialisation taught children to work together, to share, to cooperate and learn how to treat other people.
But more than these, three reasons particularly resonated with me because apart from physical development, outdoor play contributes significantly to mental strength and character.
Developing Executive Function – ‘the skills that help us plan, prioritise, troubleshoot, negotiate and multitask; they are crucial for our success.’
Dr McCarthy elaborated that these can be learned and practiced during unstructured time and involved creativity, using the imagination to problem-solve, figure things out and keep oneself entertained.
Taking Risks – ‘the lessons we learn from failure are just as important as those we learn from success.’
Giving children opportunities to try new things even if they are not always successful in the beginning helps them prepare for life’s inevitable risks.
Appreciation of Nature – ‘the future of our planet depends on our children and they need to learn to appreciate it.’
The world is changing in so many ways and to minimise loss, children need to experience and appreciate what the outdoors offers … such as a walk in the woods, animals in their habitat, climbing mountains, splashing in streams or even just gazing at an endless horizon across the sea.
Singapore provides ample opportunities for children to gain from outdoor play.
Playgrounds are easily accessible – every housing estate has one. Many are built around parks so adults can benefit as well by being outside with their young ones.
A google search of Singapore’s ten best playgrounds threw up a varied list, many with unique features to capture a child’s interest such as the ropes obstacles course in the Admiralty Park Playground with a wetland reserve and a flowing tidal river, the skybridge at Marine Cove or the aeroplane structure at the Oval@Seletar Aerospace.
Singaporean playgrounds offer suspension bridges, slides, water play, sand pits, ziplines, rope pyramids, cargo nets, swings, obstacle courses, mini-mazes and merry-go-rounds … to name a few attractions; beautifully planned and constructed and above all, free !
So this holiday, explore the island for some unusual discoveries of playgrounds with your children and do share photos with us!
Read Dr. McCarthy’s article here.