Furthermore, there are many other reasons why all children should go outside. When the children are playing outside, they are exercising. Riding bikes and playing tag are examples of exercise. Being outside also helps with the child’s immune system. When children are exposed to things like dirt and bacteria outside on a regular basis, they are less likely to develop allergies, etc. Also, being outside, children are exposed to vitamin D which is provided by the sun. Vitamin D promotes good memory, mood and good health. Here are just some of the reasons among many, why it is important to take children outdoors.
Exposure can be very general. It can be academic and nonacademic. In this blog, I will write about nonacademic exposure. For students with special needs, it is important that she/he is exposed to what all children are exposed to: life and what it offers and entails. The activities included in a typical child’s life would include play time (indoors and outdoors), watching television or going to the movies, going to the beach, going to the park, helping with the chores at home (cooking, cleaning, putting away the toys), tasting and eating food (if the child is unable to eat, have him/her smell or touch the food), arts and crafts (coloring, painting, scribbling), etc. It is also important to have the child with special needs use all their five senses of touch, smell, taste, hearing and sight. Allow the child to “experience” what she/he is exposed to. In this blog, the importance of being outdoors is highlighted. For the child in a wheelchair, you can push the child in a wheelchair fast, slow, or spin them in circles allowing them to feel the wind on their face. Push the child in his/her wheelchair over bumps in the road and up and down hills. Have the child hold a flower, rock, snowball, and even experience getting wet in the rain. You can play catch and have the child hold the ball, roll or throw the ball to you, vice versa. You can blow bubbles or have them pop it or vice versa.
In the pictures below, one of my past students is outside in the park local to the school. He gets lots of exposure outdoors. He is able to use the slide independently and draw with chalk on the park grounds. He enjoys being outdoors as do most children. It is great for him to be outside, feel the rush and wind on his face as he slides down the slide, the birds chirping and see other children play in the park. Some parks are handicap accessible.
Below are my children at the park and at home exploring with chalk in our neighborhood. In the last picture, my daughter discovers she can make handprints with chalk!