Young children are increasingly engaged in structured activities such as dance, music, soccer and while these are good they are losing the opportunity for unstructured play and it’s hurting their development.
Playing in a playground where every tree is carefully planted has a different quality than play that takes place in a natural environment. Think back to a camping trip where your children played for hours barely supervised and imagine spending even an hour at the park that way.
Children’s emotional and affective values of nature develop earlier than their abstract, logical and rational perspectives
The natural world offers sensory stimulation and physical diversity which is critical for childhood experiences; it impacts their morals, values and actions. Children who live and play in close relationship to nature form a bond that lasts a lifetime.
Research shows that kids who are involved in nature have increased academic performance, attention spans, language and social skills. Nature also gives kids the opportunity to be more creative, imaginative, to problem-solve, and to self-regulate, which increases self-confidence and reduces stress.
Children need unstructured play time in order to learn about themselves and the world. Playing in a natural environment allows children to take risks, discover limitations and make judgements to a greater degree than playing in a soccer field. A child who has roamed the hills of their community is more likely to care about what goes on in that community.
From the shores of the Thompson River to the hills of Kenna Cartwright and Peterson Creek Kamloops is full of natural exploration opportunities. Best of all none of it will cost you a dime.
This article was published in the Natural Nurturing Guide in Spring 2014