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As part of our ongoing efforts to support the health and well-being of our haumāna, the Kamehameha Schools Mālama Ola Division presents the Mālama Ola Minute series. This month, we focus on outdoor play.

Mālama Ola Minute: How outdoor play boosts your keiki’s health and happiness

April 1, 2024

Spring brings new opportunities for families to enjoy the outdoors, fostering children's holistic well-being. Engaging in outdoor activities isn't just a leisurely pastime; it's essential for your child's physical and mental health. Not only does outdoor play help children develop physical and social skills, but it also helps to reduce stress and boost self-esteem. Luckily, living in Hawaiʻi gives us ample chances to revel in nature’s playground.

Here’s why prioritizing outdoor play is paramount to your child’s health and happiness, along with practical ways to incorporate it into your family’s routine:

  1. Promotes physical health
    Play is a crucial component of physical development. Keiki sharpen their fine and gross motor skills through movement and exploration. With the abundance of fresh air and vitamin D, their immune systems also get a boost! As they navigate their outdoor spaces, they hone their balance, coordination and spatial awareness in their greenspace, fostering a deeper understanding of their body’s capabilities and surroundings.

    Make family walks a part of your post-dinner routine or plan weekends around physical activities like hiking kid-friendly trails or swimming at the beach. Ask your teens to teach you the latest dance craze or challenge each other to a workout routine, activating bonding moments that benefit everyone.

  2. Enhances mental well-being
    Nature has a remarkable ability to soothe the mind and ignite creativity. Stepping away from the daily grind into nature can alleviate stress and anxiety. For keiki, getting outside stimulates their creativity and imagination as they invent games and explore the wonders of the natural world.

    Start outdoor play with mindfulness exercises like “I Spy” or mimicking nature sounds to connect with your environment. Encourage unstructured play, allowing children the freedom to experience immediate happiness and build a stronger sense of self.

  3. Strengthens social skills
    Outdoor play nurtures a child’s independence and conflict resolution as they navigate their own adventures. When they lead their own play, they strengthen their ability to self-direct and problem-solve. This reinforces their sense of autonomy and resilience when they can assess the risks and rewards of the play they are conducting.

    Join a playgroup or organize outdoor meetups with friends. Having trusted playmates not only enriches their social skills but also provides a supportive network for your ‘ohana into the future.

For more information and inspiration on outdoor play:
Outdoor Play and Safety for Children in ECE
Offline and Off-Screen Activities for Minds-On Learning
What Every Child Needs For Good Mental Health

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