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Nature for us all!

With the end of summer fast approaching we start to think about how our time lapping up the sunshine is coming to an end. Though that’s true…just because the sunshine is ending it does not mean our time to explore the outdoors should too. Some of my favourite childhood memories are making mud sculptures and the classic….jumping in a huge puddle!

Outside has so many benefits not just for children but even for adult wellbeing! It is shown that being outdoors reduces stress and stress hormones, so not only are we creating a connection for our children to encourage their love of nature but we are giving ourselves some time to reset and relax.

These times are achieved easily by a park visit, a walk around a lake spotting different birds or sitting outside in your own yard listening for different sounds. No matter the size of your yard the sounds you can hear and the sheer peace this brings is amazing, leave your devices inside and enjoy the one on one connection that follows.

The benefits for children having regular outdoor play in addition to the wellbeing identified above makes outdoor play an absolute must for young children. The physical, social, emotional and intellectual development benefits outlined on the raising children network are listed below and provide a thought provoking focus on outdoor play:

Physical Development Benefits -> Improved motor skills -> Lower body mass index -> Improved overall health -> Improved muscle strength

Social Development Benefits -> Increased openness with parents and caregivers -> Great self awareness -> Appreciation for the environment -> Improved peer to peer relationships

Emotional Development Benefits -> Use of all five senses -> Develop a sense of independence

Intellectual Development Benefits -> Aid with brain development -> Improve communication skills -> Expanded learning space.

Having considered all these benefits our centres we provide our children with a healthy balance of indoor and outdoor play, mindfulness is something we can encourage through nature and enjoy seeing the connections the children make. We incorporate aspects of nature in our indoor environments as well such as plants, rocks, sand etc which allow children to explore and discover the wonders that they hold!

Our framework encourages us to reflect on how children respond and connect with nature and it is something we incorporate and discuss often, teaching the children to respect and appreciate nature is so important to us as one of the values we hold dear is ‘Planet Positive’. Through this value:

“We are committed to supporting our children to connect with and contribute to their world. We focus on minimising our impact on the planet. We nurture a sense of wonder and exploration in nature and our environment.”

So the next time your child stops you while walking to appreciate a dragonfly or a long trail of ants take that time to destress and enjoy all that nature has to offer us all, big and small!

By Antonette Neri (KinderPark Co-worker)