Summertime Fun: Transitioning from Indoor to Outdoor Play
By Kathleen Alfano
Playing is an important part of child development and parents need to be conscious of their children's playtime activities. With summer just around the corner, Dr. Kathleen Alfano, Senior Director of Child Research for Fisher-Price, offers parents some tips on how to adjust playtime from inside to outside. Keeping these tips in mind can help kids enjoy summer while having fun, staying safe and learning while they play.

1. Choose outside toys that are similar to your children's favorite inside toys
It's important to pay attention to children's preferences. Generally, toys they will like to play with outside are similar to toys they enjoy playing with inside. Portable toys like Little People® playsets are favorites for indoors and easy for outdoor picnics or playing in the park. For little ones who like to play with dollhouses and tea sets inside, a backyard playhouse would be great for outdoor play.

2. Adjust inside toys for outdoor play
In economic times such as these, spending money on new toys can be expensive so parents should look for toys from inside play that can be adjusted for outdoors. For example, infant tummy-time toys can be brought outside to play with on a blanket. Outside story time is always special too, so don't forget to have books handy. Just remember to prepare for the sunny weather by using sunscreen, adding an umbrella or finding a play space in the shade.

3. Keep active!
Although playing inside is great for children's overall development, summertime is a wonderful time for children to be more physically active. Going to a park with slides, swings and climbing gyms, throwing a ball or taking a bike ride together can be part of children's routines. Research shows that children learn better when they have time to be physically active. So while playing outside, children will not only be having fun, but will also be gaining brain power!

4. Learn more about your child by observing playtime
These days, electronic gadgets make it easy to snap pictures and videos of playtime. This is a great way for parents to recap the day with their child, talking about the fun they had and also what they learned. Telling the story of the day is a fun way to end the day and plan for future playful events. Knowing what interests children will help plan activities that will bring excitement and joy and make playtime even more fun.

5. Pay extra attention to safety
Parents always need to be aware of safety, especially when playing outdoors. It's important for parents to protect their children from the sun, pick toys that are age-appropriate and in good repair, and to make sure the play environment is safe, child-friendly and child-proof.