Kids & Nature
Kids need regular time in nature. It’s critical to their development in every way – physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, spiritually and creatively. Nature nourishes and nurtures children in ways indoor play and ‘screen time’ cannot do. Nature play inspires a sense of wonder and brings the world to life for kids.
Compared to 20 or 30 years ago, the time that children directly experience nature during playtime has fallen, and not just a little bit – it’s fallen significantly. A UK survey of 2,000 kids aged 8 to 12 years old found that the distance kids wander and explore from home has shrunk by 90% since the 1970s, and 43% of adults think a child shouldn’t play unsupervised until the age of 14.
Here are some of the amazing benefits that nature offers – and all for little or no cost at all:
Increases physical health
Walking, running, jumping, skipping, exploring, and simply playing outdoors does amazing things for children’s physical health, including the development of motor skills, cardiovascular fitness, and daily dose of vitamin D. That’s right, just 10 to 15 minutes in the sun provides kids with enough daily vitamin D to improve energy levels, moods, memory and calcium absorption.
Balances mental health and emotional wellbeing
Spending time in nature and outdoor play helps with handling stress and anxiety. We know this as adults. Even a walk around the park helps calm our mind and perks up our mood. Kids are no different. They feel happier and have less aggression when connecting with nature. And play protects children’s emotional development whereas loss of free time and a hurried, overly scheduled lifestyle can contribute to anxiety and depression.
Stimulate imagination and creativity
Play encourages creativity, imagination and flexibility in thinking. Best thing about play is that there is no right or wrong way to do something; there are as many possibilities as you can imagine. A rock could be stepping stone, a castle, a house, a treasure chest….whatever you imagine. The magical thing about play in nature is that kids learn by combining their ideas, thoughts and impressions with their experiences, understanding and opinions. And nature is one of our best teachers. While kids are learning through play, they are also learning about the world.
Promotes problem solving and cognitive skills
Kids who play outside in unstructured activities learn how to solve real-life problems, and helps encourage focus, concentration and self-reliance. Simply building a sandcastle involves logical mathematical thinking, scientific reasoning and cognitive solving problem.
Encourage social development
One of the great gifts of playing outdoors with friends is that kids learn important social skills that they will carry into adulthood. They learn about cooperation, leadership, conflict resolution and negotiation. Unsupervised play improves flexibility, self-awareness and team work.
Creates future custodians for our planet
The future of our planet is in our children’s hands and hearts. If kids are given more opportunities to have a meaningful experience outdoors, they will be more likely to value nature, engage with it, and feel empowered to do something about it. Kids who love nature will grow up to protect it. They are more likely to become more informed adults and make decisions that help protect, rather than harm, our environment.