I grew up in England and come rain or shine I spent most of my childhood outdoors. We made dens in the woods and tramped through muddy puddles. We even camped in the garden in winter. I loved being outdoors as a child and as it turns out it is not only good for the soul and mental health it also has an extremely positive effect on child development.
So why is it important to allow children time outdoors to explore and to participate in spontaneous play?
Being close to nature offers:
The chance for children to discover and to develop scientific knowledge and skills-The outdoor environment provides opportunities for children to explore and to learn through observation, questioning, experimentation and reflection.
Opportunities for physical development- Whilst outside children run and jump, climb and balance. Children learn about the capabilities of their own bodies and develop balance and coordination.
Opportunities for low risk taking- Children may jump from rock to rock across a stream or learn to climb a tree. These risk taking activities are important as they develop life skills such as problem solving and the ability to assess risks as well as build resilience.
The chance for children to build social skills and develop kindness and empathy- Outdoor play is usually unstructured, children engage in activities such as building dens, playing tag and interacting with bugs and nature. Unstructured play requires children to cooperate, negotiate and to solve conflicts. Being outdoors also allows children to establish positive connections to nature. To learn about plants and animals and about caring for them, thus developing empathy and kindness for the earth's creatures.
In addition to the benefits outlined above children need nature play for the healthy development of their senses. It also helps to develop creativity and imagination. Let's all look up a local park and get out there! Mother Nature awaits us!