We have all heard so many times before to ‘get back to nature’ and ‘enjoy the great outdoors’, but how do we do that? And why do we need to do it – is it really that important?
A great deal of research has been done into the benefits of nature play for not just young children – but for all of us. At Mother Duck, we believe that children can derive tremendous benefit from taking part in regular nature play and learning outside of the classroom. It can help to bring many areas of development alive as they focus on real-life situations and consequences. We are so passionate about it, our Mother Duck Wynnum centre is a registered provider for Nature Play QLD and offers an off-site bush kindy program.
Nature play provides opportunities for children to respond positively to challenges and responsibilities, manage risk, be adaptable and cope with change. Active outdoor learning and frequent nature play provide different ways in which skills such as enquiry, experimentation, reflection, the ability to review, communication, problem-solving, an enterprising attitude, and cooperative learning can be further developed.
We all know the challenges of balancing screen time with other forms of play. Moving our children’s play outside can have the added benefits of:
- Boosting mental health and emotions
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and body
- Developing social skills
- Learning about the community and different outdoor settings and environments.
When children play outdoors they will automatically learn how to take appropriate risks, develop their sense of independence and expand their communication skills.
There are so many ways to increase your child’s outdoor play that do not cost a lot of money or require resources.
- Go on a hunt for treasure! Instead of just heading out for a walk, turning it into a treasure hunt can quickly engage and excite children. See how many animals you can spot! Count how many special stones your child can find! Look for the most exciting trucks, diggers, and buses as you explore the streets in your area!
- Take a blanket and find a stretch of grass to set up on and count the birds that fly over you. You can even pack a few resources such as pencils and paper so you can draw what you see around you, or maybe even draw a pirate’s treasure map that will lead you back to your house.
- If you are meeting a friend for a play date, have that play date at the local park, even if there isn’t a playground. Children have amazing imaginations and when playing with a peer, will often create elaborate games simply using trees, stone, sticks, and grass.
Nature play Queensland is a great organisation that provides families with resources to use in the outdoors. Nature play Queensland has passports available for free to get children active outdoors. Follow the links below for more ideas for how we can all get outdoors more and enjoy all that our local communities have to offer.