A study comparing the development of kids in rural and metropolitan areas found that children benefit from living in the countryside

A recent Finnish study of three to seven-year-olds found that children living in the countryside spent more time outdoors and had better motor skills than children in the metropolitan area.

This is despite the fact that children living in the metropolitan area participated in more organised sports.

Mastering motor skills

Motor skills comprise locomotor, object control and balance skills, all of which are present in everyday life tasks like running, climbing and drawing.

“In early childhood, the mastery of basic motor skills is one of the main developmental tasks of the child. Motor skills enable children to participate in various physical activities and physically active play. Mutual play and games enable children to have friends to play with. Moreover, motor skills are also crucial when it comes to school adaptation,” says PhD. student Donna Niemistö from the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä.

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Natural open spaces benefit kids

From chasing butterflies to climbing trees, time spent outdoors naturally supports children’s motor development.

Children find natural outdoor environments stimulating and spaces that inspire free running and playing are important for the development of locomotor skills, such as walking, running, climbing, galloping and jumping.

Large spaces and playing areas are also crucial in practising object control skills.

Why children need to spend time in nature

How to help children develop motor skills no matter where you live

One in 10 children experiences a delay in motor development. These delays can complicate everyday tasks, such as putting on clothes, writing and riding a bike.

Fortunately, you don’t have to live in the country to help your children develop their motor skills simply need to provide them with enough opportunity to practise.

“Every child, with or without delays in motor skills, develops motor skills through repetition of the task. For the child’s development, it is crucial that (s)he has an opportunity to try, play and practise spontaneously,” explains Niemistö.

She says that a parental presence assures the child that practising motor skills is important and safe, and advises getting outdoors as a family to spaces where nature can enable versatile experiences and stimuli for the child’s motor development.

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Source: University of Jyväskylä – Jyväskylän yliopisto via www.sciencedaily.com

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