It is my firm belief that letting kids get dirty while playing outside is one of the better things we can do for them. Tame your inner clean freak and let them out into the wild. It is no news that a little dirt is good for the immune system, but, what is more, playing with real, natural objects and the elements in their native habitat – a park, a backyard, or a farm – is instrumental to the development of a healthy brain and a healthy sense of self.
A child who has been allowed to play freely and unselfconsciously outside will emerge looking something like this.
Relatively sheltered from screen media, the above child spends hours on end outside, and you can tell. Such child will be characterized by a twinkle in the eye, a general level of confidence, and overall good health, both physical and mental.
Like all kids (and grown-ups, for that matter), such child is not without his Mr. Hyde side, but, if anywhere, outdoors is a fine outlet for it.
Thing is, kids don’t really need “developmental,” high-stimulation toys, a large pile of books, or miles-long, battery-powered train set (often purchased to delight the little boy in the dad) to have a happy childhood and to grow up strong and smart.
What they need instead is this kind of experience. So, if you haven’t yet, put a little energy into finding ways to make it happen.