Written by Clare Caro
Nature Play was set up in 2011 as a way of enabling young children to connect with nature, in all weathers, and in all seasons. What better way of achieving this than by simply going out to play in a place of natural beauty on a regular basis? Nature Play taps into every child’s innate ability for optimum learning, their ability to play.
Out in nature without the addition of ‘toys’, the children engage with their surroundings through play, and in doing so, they bond with the Earth. The Earth offers the perfect ‘play ground’ and every Nature Play group is held in an area that is carefully selected as being just right for all ages and for all developmental play stages. Babies will find plenty to look at, listen to and explore; little ones who are crawling will find slopes, fallen logs, and many treasures on the uneven ground; players will find ‘trains’, ‘houses’ and a plethora of ‘loose parts’ to facilitate all their play requirements.
Timing is everything. The first years of life are the years when by far the most growth happens in the child’s brain. During those early years children master the use of their bodies, learn how to learn, gather information about their world, learn social skills, and much more. All of this happens with ease, just as nature intended, through play. Each child has the universal play patterns coded deep within his or her body and developing brain. It is in the playing out of those patterns that children grow the foundations that will set them for the rest of their life.
A lot of what is written about play talks about importance of free, unstructured, child-led play. This is the type of play where the player gets into ‘the zone’, either by being deeply engrossed in his or her own world, or by interacting and playing with other children. This type of play is extremely beneficial, and is a requirement for developing human beings to unfold as designed.
Supporting child-led play is something Nature Play takes seriously; we recognize the importance of child-led play and provide the space for it to unfold at its own pace. We also provide resources for adults to understand child-led play, and to learn just how they can support children without interrupting the play (unless of course intervention is required). Learning to support child-led play can be a big step, one that walks a different path from that of structured, directed and aided play-time.
While the children benefit from Nature Play sessions, likewise so do adults. It feels great to get out into the elements, get lots of fresh air, noticing and share the magic and wonder of nature unfolding, on the Earth and in our children.
Nature Play is... Child-led play, for all ages, every week, all weather, all seasons and free
This article was written for and featured in the Autumn/Winter 2014 issue of New Addition Magazine, NCT Lewisham.
...take me back to the A R T I C L E S menu.