Nature play is a powerful way to boost child development. Because nature play is child-directed, there is very little for parents and carers to do, other than getting the kids to a natural area. It can feel counter-intuitive, but the richest play experiences happen in the simplest play settings.
No toys, activities, games, costumes or any other play props mean children have the space to use their imaginations and social skills to entertain themselves, and naturally develop crucial life skills along the way.
Giving children the freedom to explore local natural areas in whatever way they choose grows their interest in exploring, discovering and becoming comfortable making decisions with external influence. The natural world offers limitless learning opportunities – from discovering how the effect of gravity is altered by the density of different objects, to learning to safely assess risk, building resilience by recovering from small failures during nature play and naturally developing creativity and social skills through imaginative play.
The learning opportunities of nature play are just part of the story. Nature play tends to involve a lot of physical movement, getting up close to natural elements like mud, bugs, and plants, taking risks, making choices alone and as part of a social group, and being free to just stop and watch the butterflies whenever it feels right.
These parts of nature play give kids opportunities for exercise and exploration when energy is high, and introspection and relaxation when energy is low. Many outdoor educators and nature play parents observe that children who often demonstrate hyper anti-social behaviour in the classroom or at home become more relaxed and centred during nature play, while children who are naturally introverted and quiet become more assertive and confident during nature play.
Delve into the world of nature play and the effect it has on child development through our library of relevant blogs below.