When can a child play outside alone? 4 tips

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  March 10, 2021

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When can kids play outside without supervision from mom and dad?

It is a situation that raises the necessary questions within education. Should you mainly listen to your feelings, or should a child just be able to play outside from a certain age?

In this article I will answer all kinds of practical questions regarding when a child can play outside alone and explain why playing outside is so good for a child.

From when will children be able to play outside on their own

Even though most children from the age of 6 can play outside alone, you should still use common sense. You also build up slowly by playing outside alone. An example of an outdoor game is 'Annemaria Koekoek'. There are many advantages to playing outside, including developing social skills.

I will also mention a number of fun games that children can play outside.

From what age are children allowed to play outside alone?

In fact, there is no fixed age at which experts say: From then on, children should be able to be alone play outside.

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It is largely dependent on your child, and every child is simply different.

To determine if your child is mature enough to play outside alone, you as a parent must look closely at your child and use common sense. The age does not always mean something.

Some kids are more independent than other children. You can already make good agreements with the independent children.

But there are children who need a little longer and do not yet have a real sense of responsibility.

Are there any guidelines for when a child can play outside independently?

There are indeed a number of guidelines from youth health care, so that as a parent you know approximately what your child should be able to do in a certain age stage.

  1. 0-4 jaar: Children in this age stage are not yet able to play outside on their own. That's because most toddlers are not yet able to properly assess hazards. As a parent you must therefore always supervise!
  2. 4-6 jaar: You can now slowly build up playing outside alone, but only if you think that your child is responsible enough.
  3. From 6 years old: From this age on, most children can play outside on their own. They can now also walk to school themselves or to a friend. However, it is important to walk along the first few times and see how your child travels the routes. Always keep making clear agreements.

So there are certain guidelines, but again: follow your gut feeling.

Even if your child is between the ages of 4 and 6, don't let him or her play outside alone if they just aren't ready yet!

What to consider when determining whether your child can play outside alone?

To better determine whether your child is ready to play outside alone, you can look at a number of skills and factors.

  1. Can your child keep agreements? This is essential, because if a child is going to play outside alone, it is of course the intention that they keep to the agreements he has made with mom and dad.
  2. Where do you let your child play? Especially in the early years, you let your child play somewhere where, of course, there is no traffic.
  3. Can your child play nicely with other children?
  4. Is your child careful?
  5. What kind of atmosphere is there on the playground? Is there being bullied or are there loitering youths?

In addition to relying on your feelings and the degree of responsibility that your child can bear, there are also other things that you should take into account when determining whether your child can play outside alone.

How do you build up only allowing you to play outside?

If you are convinced that your child can play outside alone, it is important that you build this up.

You can do this in the following way, for example:

  1. First of all, you make clear agreements with your child. Examples of such agreements are: do not just go with a stranger, do not cross the street and do not play dangerous games. Don't forget to keep repeating the agreements.
  2. The first times you are there. You let your child play alone and supervise from a distance. For example, sit at a distance and read a book.
  3. You start by letting it play outside for a while. After that, you can build up time. For example, start with 5 or 10 minutes and make it a little longer if everything goes well.

Don't you think it's all a bit scary? What you can do, for example, is agree with the parents you know that someone will take turns supervising.

Also let your child know who he can go to if there is something wrong and mom or dad are not around at that time.

It is simply essential not to give your child all of a sudden just like that, but to build it up slowly.

Read also: Children's clothing for the summer - time for playing outside, time for holiday clothes

Tips for games while playing outside

Actually, a child needs very little to be able to play outside. Especially in a playground, there are often enough devices available that a child can use.

But sometimes there is only a lawn, and then the kids have to use a little more imagination.

Below some tips for fun games!

  1. Annemaria Cuckoo! Most children are familiar with this game, but to be sure I will explain it quickly: one child is the 'Annemaria', this one is at a distance with its back to the rest of the children. The moment this person shouts 'Annemaria Koekoek', the rest of the children try to get as close to the 'Annemaria' as possible. After the child says 'Cuckoo', he or she quickly turns around. If he or she still sees a player moving, then that player has to go back to the start. The player who first makes it to the finish line unseen, has won the game and is the next 'Annemaria'.
  2. Hide and seek. Does this still need explanation? Make sure to agree in advance where the children can go to hide!
  3. Sidewalk chalks. With sidewalk chalk you can do a lot! Not only can you make nice drawings on the tiles, but you can also use it to draw a hopscotch.
  4. Jumping rope. You probably know that too! Nice and old-fashioned! Jumping rope is great fun and also good for fitness. You can jump rope alone or with a group of children. A lot of fun guaranteed!

Of course you can always have a nice one buy pétanque set or bowling with plastic balls and skittles. Playing Frisbee is also a great idea or just playing football!

Playing outside is also an option when it rains. Find the 25 best rain games here!

What are the advantages of being able to play outside independently?

For children, playing outside really only means one thing: having fun with friends!

However, there are also a lot of benefits to playing outside from an educational point of view.

  1. Your child will grow and develop. Where your child used to be very dependent, it now goes on its own to pick up friends and play.
  2. Your child will learn responsibility and will also become more resilient.
  3. As a parent, you can make time for yourself when your child is playing outside independently.
  4. A child learns new norms and values ​​when dealing with children from different backgrounds.
  5. It develops social skills.
  6. Good for the motor skills.
  7. Playing outside makes you creative.

Only being able to play outside is part of the healthy development of every child. It also gives mom and dad some air and free time every now and then!

Read also: Best outdoor toys for the garden: 14 toys rated

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Speelkeuze.nl is a content marketer, father and loves trying out new toys. As a child, he came into contact with everything around games when his mother started the Tin Soldier in Ede. Since 2016, he and his team have been creating helpful blog articles to help loyal readers with fun play ideas.