The Importance of Outdoor Play



Welcome to our quarterly Explore & Develop newsletter which we have developed to keep current, past and future families up to date with the latest news, advice and tips relating to early childhood education trends.

We understand that Winter in particular is that time of year when many colds and viruses circulate, and we are frequently asked by the families that attend our centres, how can they help their children to build their immune systems? Therefore, we thought that this would be a good topic to discuss in our newsletter below.

I hope that you find information in this newsletter of interest and that you and your family manage to escape the flu season in good health.

Belinda Ludlow


Safely Exposing Your Children to Germs with Outdoor Play

Our children are growing up in the cleanest era of all time. We stock our daily spaces with anti-bacterial wipes, disinfecting sprays and sanitising gels to combat our germs. Modern hygiene has definitely eliminated many health problems of the past; yet, research is now flagging to us the possible side effects of this squeaky-clean living. We are seeing rising cases in children of allergies, asthma, autoimmune deficiencies, digestive issues, mental health issues and medical science is starting to wonder whether there is a correlation. They are asking if we have gone too extreme on the clean.

Studies have shown that in young people, the immune system is like an unprogrammed computer – it needs instruction. Many experts seem to agree, the best way to teach little bodies immunity, is to get them into the mud (and not stressing out if they eat a bit of it). Exposure to the sorts of germs and pathogens found in dirt, can help build resistance against diseases in later life.

Dirt might also be good for the brain! Play with natural elements (e.g. sticks, leaves, stones, sand and mud) is found to engage children longer than traditional play materials, supporting greater cooperation and pro-social behaviours.

The benefits of outside play are so compelling, it’s enough to have grown-ups wondering why we aren’t swinging off the trees with them!

Click here to watch a great short video on the benefits of playing in dirt.

The things small children want to do outside, like building mud castles, splashing around in puddles and rolling down hills until their clothes are irreparably grass-stained—all those things that make mothers reach for hand sanitizer and laundry detergent— may, in fact, be a grubby little prescription for health and happiness.

From, The Dirt on Dirt: How getting dirty outdoors benefits kids. Published by Nature Play Queensland

Three easy ways to get your hands dirty with your children

  • Gardening (even indoor pots provide exposure to soil)
  • Kick off your shoes when you’re in the garden, or at the beach or park
  • Plan your family holidays to be close to nature (camping is ideal, but even preferring the beach over a pool, or getting out of the city into the countryside for walks will help you all decompress, take in a healthy dose of vitamin D and breathe the fresh air!).

The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.

e. e. cummings