Today, the Little Joey Toy Co team spent a beautiful morning under the dappled sunlight of a Cork Wood Forrest. Five children ran ahead of us, chasing dragons, spying possums and, upon finding a fallen log, created a world where their Little Joey wooden toys came to life. Here, they happily played for hours; no equipment necessary.
Something wonderful happens when children are given freedom to play in the natural environment. By her own design, Mother Nature provides all the equipment needed; fallen logs become balance beams, tree branches become monkey bars and the shady boughs, cubby houses. Streams trickle, ready for little leaf boats to race down them, and a simple rope swing waits, swaying in the breeze, for a child to grab hold and take flight. No slide can compete with the sheer thrill of rolling down a soft, green, grassy hill. When playtime ends, hands are grubby, knees are grass stained and children’s faces rosy from the clean, fresh air.
A recent article in the Herald Sun newspaper reports on a change back to natural playgrounds for children, one where water and sand play are strong features.
“Studies show nature play stimulates children’s immune systems, relieves stress, boosts self-esteem, and improves creativity and cognitive function.”
Anyone who remembers the playgrounds of years past, with hard bitumen play surfaces, rickety chain swings and slippery dips that, in the hot Australian Summer, and without the luxury of shade, became hot enough to burn if you were brave enough to slide down, will welcome this change back to a more organic form of children’s playground..
Richard Louv, author of “The Last Child in the Woods’ says: “Nature inspires creativity in a child by demanding visualisation and the full use of the senses.”
In our increasingly urban lifestyles, where open bushland or forests aren’t easily accessible to many, safe play spaces are essential for our children. If these safe spaces also provide ‘a touch of nature’ and a chance for children to develop and explore the vast world of their imaginations, then maybe, just maybe, we’ll see a generation of ‘grounded’ children, inspired by a childhood of free range play, ready to step into their future, full of possibility and wonder.
We’d love to know; where are the best natural play areas where you live? Please share in the comments below.
Read the full article here: http://bit.ly/1KgXOhT