WORDS: Sarah Sutter, CE Nature Play SA
IMAGES: Jason Tyndall, Nature Play SA
The words “nature play” are undoubtedly becoming a buzzword in the SA community. We’re hearing more and more about the importance of nature play for children because we know they are spending less time outside than ever before. Our children’s lives have hectic schedules, structured activities, rules, regulations, and constantly evolving technology.
Endless possibilities to learn and grow
The concept of nature play is for children to have the opportunity to play freely in natural environments. Play in nature provides endless possibilities for them to learn, grow, engage their full senses, develop gross motor skills, take risks, regulate emotions, and use their imagination.
As a society, we now realise that we need to make positive changes for our children. Part of this shift is bringing nature back into their lives. We see this happening with the increasing number of nature play spaces in schools and local councils and parents’ understanding of the importance of outdoor play. In addition, more and more research is validating the benefits of children spending time with nature.
Every time we give our children an opportunity to access nature, we’re improving their physical and emotional wellbeing. Importantly, we are also building our connections with each other.
Nature Play SA’S top tips for engaging children in nature:
- Schedule time to help make it a priority
- Remember that play should be a sensory activity – getting dirty is a good thing!
- Encourage free and independent play
- Make visiting natural spaces a regular thing (try National Parks, beaches, and other wild places)
- Role model nurturing values and behaviours towards nature.
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