Nature play is the best way of helping our children to develop well physically, emotionally, and socially. It’s got all bases covered! I’ve come up with a few reasons as to why nature play is good for our children, and I hope by the end, you’ll be be grabbing your wellies and heading out into the great outdoors together 🙂
1. Nature has a very calming quality. It is known to decrease stress, and increase happiness. It is food for our minds. This is because it doesn’t place any demands on us, but it is still engaging. It is a must for our mental health and well being.
2. The natural exposure to light increases our vitamin D levels, which in turn improves our health. It’s vitally important here in Sweden, in winter, that play outdoors in nature continues as the light times of the day are so short! This means, at school, they are outdoors in almost any weather 🙂
3. Nature play is full of “loose parts”. These are things the children can play with that have no predetermined role. This allows children’s imaginations and creativity to be used and called upon. They can build, role play, make art, or use things as writing tools. There are no predefined limits. They also don’t become bored so fast, as with toys that have a predetermined role.
4. Children’s strength and muscle tone are improved as they lift, shift, climb, and move about in nature.
5. Nature play allows children to get dirty and “hands on” with nature. Research has shown that this exposure to dirt helps increase their immunity (there is more to come on this in a future blog post).
6. They are allowed to explore and investigate the environment, which leads to stimulation, awareness, and independence.
7. Playing outdoors in nature increases the physical effort used, therefore promoting a healthier way of living and physically fitter children.
8. They will use a wide range of skills, utilising both large and small motor skills – good for development again.
9. Immersing the children in nature in such a positive way, helps nuture a love of nature.
10. Being in nature so much, and developing a bond with it is also good for nature. They will grow up wanting to protect it, respect it, and nurture it more having been immersed in it. This in turn will help to conserve it more.
11. Being outdoors in nature helps teach the children to enjoy the simple things in life, and to live in the present moment. It does this whilst also instilling a sense of awe and adventure.
12. Nature play naturally lends itself to more risk taking due to the environment the children are in. We are in danger of raising a risk averse generation, and this will have further consequences when they are older. By taking risks, they are learning to manage and control risks, and learn about risk management. Otherwise they will not take risks and then will be unable to manage risks, or control them. Their development suffers when they are not allowed to take risks as children need it, crave it, and are natural risk takers.
13. Playing outdoors in nature increases communication skills and negotiating skills. They are able to work together better, enhancing these skills which are another important part of their development.
14. This environment also helps their problem solving skills more, due to the diversity of obstacles and options.
15. Nature play is much healthier for our children, making them happier, which in turn, naturally leads to happier parents too 🙂