When Outdoor Play is Not Enough
You’ve probably seen cautionary stories in the press or on social media about the dangers of children’s lack of outdoor play:
POOR CORE STRENGTH!
WEAK MOTOR SKILLS!
SENSORY PROCESSING DISORDER!
The list could go on and on...
As an OT who works primarily outdoors with children, I’m glad to see the press is interested in exposing the risks of children not getting the outdoor play they need for their healthy development.
Outdoor play is important. HUGELY important for ALL children.
But to claim that a lack of outdoor play CAUSES sensory processing disorder, or ADHD, or autism, or learning disabilities, or depression, or even just poor motor skills? It is simply not true in 99% of cases. An extremely complex array of dynamic systems and factors influence our children's development. Outdoor play is definitely a factor, but its influence is commonly overstated as a panacea to "fix" all kinds of child development issues.
There are some children who need MORE than just increased outdoor play opportunities. Some children need more outdoor play AND skilled therapy support to make gains in their motor skills, their confidence, their attention or self-regulation, or their social and play skills.
This is exactly our focus at Outdoor Kids OT. We use an inclusive model focused on helping ALL kids: the kids who need nature play can join our groups as Peer Playmates, and kids who need nature play PLUS therapy can join our groups as OT Kids. In the group together, they're all just kids! When kids get occupational therapy in our groups, we’re embedding skilled therapy into playful activities in nature with others...and the children think they are all just playing!
So you might ask: what are kids learning in our groups that they wouldn't learn if playing outdoors on their own?
Outdoor Kids OT therapists design OT sessions in nature to help facilitate children's learning of age-appropriate play skills.
We teach kids to problem solve and resolve conflict.
We directly teach motor skills and then allow time for repetition and practice.
And best of all, we help children learn to have a growth mindset for future success in life.
These are all skills that some kids wouldn’t learn simply through outdoor play in the woods...but with an OKOT therapist leading the way, kids can get therapy support AND the nature play time that all kids need.
Interested in joining us?
Join our parent email list today to be notified when registration opens for our next Con•T•GO Kids OT Group*. You’ll also get our fun monthly emails with insider OT tips on raising coordinated, confident, calm & caring kids! It’s like free OT consultation in a short digestible format.
*P.S. If you haven't heard of our Con•T•GO approach, you can read more about it here!
We'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Comment below!