Most of us know that playing in nature is good for our kids, but as the colder weather arrives, sometimes we need reminding so that we don’t completely retreat into our central heated cosy homes. So here is why, even when it is cold and gloomy, playing in nature is good for our kids.
It gets our kids moving. Being outdoors in nature makes them want to run, jump, climb, kick and crawl. Watch them next time they are out in the local woods. We bet it won’t be long before they are balancing on a fallen log or kicking the leaves. Head down to the beach and they won’t be able to stop themselves from hopping and jumping over the waves or digging in the sand.
Playing in nature can boost their creativity. Without toys with predisposed functions kids have to think for themselves. A stick can be a thousand different things, stones can tell a thousand stories and mud can make a thousand different pies. There really are endless possibilities in nature, we just have to let their imagination take them there.
It can help our children de-stress. Being back at school, with pressure to perform and after school clubs to attend, our children are under much more pressure than we were as kids. Allowing them space to play in nature gives them a chance to relax, forget about the spat they had with their best friend over lunch or the homework they have been putting off. In nature they get to just be and so do we. In fact playing in nature is just as good for us as it is for them!
They will learn something new without even knowing it. Nature has so much to teach our kids and they will learn it all by themselves. Children often, naturally start to group items together according to size, function or colour. They learn the difference between solid materials and liquids, they discover what is pliable and what isn’t, how materials work together and so much more. They learn their own limits, how high they can climb, how far they can jump, how much pressure they need to apply to snap a twig. They discover important scientific principles without even realising what they have discovered. Later on when they get into the classroom they will have something to relate their learning to. In fact the learning possibilities in nature are limitless and the learning sticks better when it is self-motivated.
Playing in nature also builds on their problem solving skills. If they want to make a tree swing they have to work out how one would work, what sort of rope to use and which branch is the best choice. If they build a shelter they have to work out how to transport large sticks, how to make it waterproof and how to make it big enough for them and all their friends.
And this doesn’t even cover it all! So brave the cold air and find somewhere natural to play, then enjoy coming home to a nice warm house and a cup of hot chocolate.