Children that have many opportunities to play and discover nature will get knowledge about all that are living and growing, they will understand our living conditions better. Nowhere is so much to discover, to play with, as in nature and nowhere can children get so much knowledge about their own living conditions, as they can in small piece of wild nature. Experiences in nature give a feeling of responsibility to nature and animals, all that is living. No environment is so full of play material, as the nature. Nature gives children a maximum of space to run, jump climb, role, spin to a minimum of prohibitions and restrictions. In nature children’s big needs of movement, knowledge, interaction and thrill are fulfilled. Throughout history nature play has happened automatically during childhood, but today that kind of play, that has been a cherished part of childhood for so many generations is endangered.
Many more people live in cities and suburbs today, where access to wild spaces appropriate for children’s play often is very limited. More and more children today have less and less contact with the natural world and it that has an enormous impact on their health and development.
Does the loss of childhood nature play really matter? During the early childhood years children need opportunities to get out and explore nature without predetermined activities or objectives. Researches show that natural environments and outdoor play are beneficial to children in many ways. Playing outdoors is important for developing capacities for creativity, symbolic play, problem solving and intellectual development.
Outdoor and natural play increases children’s
- Gross motor skills
- Eye and hand coordination
- Problem solving
- Reduce stress
- Prevents obesity
The importance of physical activities from early age is extremely relevant if we think about the growth of children’s obesity worldwide. Physical activities in childhood also prevent heart disease, diabetes and other health issues later in life.
The Benefits of outdoor and natural play give children skills that will be needed in the future.
- Cognitive development
- Social development
- Emotional development
Time spent outdoors increase physical activity, healthy development and overall wellbeing.
The world’s environmental problems are increasing and it is important to raise citizens who have positive connection to nature and are willing to take action to protect it. Frequent, unstructured childhood play in natures has shown to be the best influence to develop life-long conservation values. Childhood play in nature lays the foundation for an interest in taking care of the environment later in life.#
Nature is also the ultimate resource for eco-friendly craft and art materials for children.
Nature is filled with some of the best “toys” that can be offered. Natural materials with open-ended possibilities stimulate and empower children’s creativity, imagination and fantasy and they can be used in play in many ways. Nature based loose parts can range from simple natural materials. Pieces of bark, small stones, seeds, pine cones, twigs, fallen leaves, flowers, branches, pebbles and so on.
The theory of loose parts
The theory of “loose parts” first proposed by architect Simon Nicholson in the 1970’s has begun to influence child-play experts and the people who design play spaces for children in a big way. Nicholson believed that it is the ‘loose parts’ in our environment that will empower our creativity. In a play, loose parts are materials that can be moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up, and taken apart and put back together in multiple ways. They are materials with no specific set of directions that can be used alone or combined with other materials.
If we want future generations to carry on the work of conservation, willing to care and protect the environment, then nature and outdoor play must be restored.