Once upon a time (not so long ago) playing outdoors and in nature was part of every child’s life. Today however, the battle to get kids to balance ‘screen time’ with ‘green time’ is real, and nature play is coming to the rescue.
A growing number of organisations – from childcare and early learning centres, schools, Councils and community groups – are joining the nature play movement based on the research-backed belief that time spent playing and learning outdoors is critical to childhood development.
At its core, connecting children with nature and encouraging outdoor play and learning opportunities is about identifying what is good for our children and how to provide them with more of it. It’s about investing in their – and the world’s – future, with studies showing children who play outside are more likely to cherish and protect nature as young adults.
Nature play is alive with benefits
In a review of studies from around the world into the impacts of nature play on the health and development of children, University of South Australia researchers found exposure to nature play had consistently positive impacts on children’s physical activity outcomes and cognitive behaviour*.
This research and other studies show nature play:
- Improves physical literacy, fine and gross motor skills
- Counteracts the negative effects of screen time in young children
- Improves attention and working memory, critical to learning
- Boosts creativity, problem solving and social skills
- Increases confidence and self-esteem
- Teaches kindness and compassion
- Enhances environmental awareness and stewardship.
Nature play’s influence on playground design
Playground designers are embracing nature play, too with traditional playgrounds making way for play spaces that use Mother Nature as their muse.
Increasingly, play spaces in schools and community parks are incorporating and blending in with the landscape, prioritising the use of natural, eco-friendly materials and finishes, and featuring structures and layouts that reflect those found in nature.
Think timber towers that provide a tree-top view and steppingstones, activity trails and tunnels through mounds that lead children to sand and water play areas!
As playground equipment and play space designers, Playground Centre supports communities to create stimulating and adventure-filled nature play experiences (even in the most built-up environments).
Our Nature Play range includes a wide variety of equipment made from strong, durable timber and play options that offer sensory experiences that keep children engaged. While flowers, insects and our furry, feathered and scaled friends have inspired everything from climbing structures, rockers and carousels to musical instruments.
Build your nature play space with us! Our playground specialists are on-hand and ready to help you plan, design and build an incredible nature play experience. Contact us today.
*Source: The impacts of unstructured nature play on health in early childhood development: A systematic review (2020) Kylie A. Dankiw, Margarita D. Tsiros, Katherinae L. Baldock, Saravana Kumar