The Importance of Nature-play
Written by Abbie Nicholls
For young children, exploring nature is not only beneficial for intellectual learning, but also for expanding creative capacity. In Western Australia, our history is deeply rooted in the natural environment. It is important our young children are exposed to the beauty and variety of our wildlife and learn to recognise its significance at an early age.
What do the experts say?
Plenty of research suggests that being out in fresh air has been shown to improve mood, reduce stress, improve eyesight and increase physical activity.
Plus, too much time spent playing in a controlled indoors environment could limit your child’s potential. Exposing them to varied situations will create more adaptable and resilient individuals. For example, playing on uneven heights and surfaces will help hone your child’s balance and coordination, something that’s more difficult to replicate in a constructed indoors environment. Independence is key for all sorts of emotional and physical development in children and where better to learn such a great skill than outside?
David Attenborough has been quoted to have said, “No one will protect what they don’t care about, and no one will care about what they have not experienced.” It is important to encourage a love of the outdoors in our young children, not only to reap the multitude of personal benefits, but to also do right by our beautiful planet. Nature play is the perfect recipe for nurturing tomorrow’s environmentally aware adults.
How we’re getting our hands dirty at the Balga ELC
We encourage a variety of nature-based play in all of our learning environments and this becomes a major focus in our Toddler and Kindy Rooms. Our young learners develop the skills to identify a range of natural materials and wildlife, and show an eagerness to discover more about the world around them in a supportive space. Where better to capture our children’s great imaginations than the beautiful, great outdoors?
In our Kindy Room we immerse our children in the natural environment in a range of guided learning activities. One of these activities is collecting an abundance of natural materials like gumnuts and twigs, and using them to improve counting skills. It is also common to find our little ones on a lovely walk in the bush as they learn about the wildlife right under their feet.
With so many benefits on offer to us in the natural world, it would be wrong to deny ourselves them. And it would be wrong to ignore a child’s inherent curiosity about the nature around them. The outdoors is meant to be explored and who better to lead the way than our next generation of eager adventurers?
Let’s get exploring!