‘To play is to learn. Time to step back and let kids be kids’
According to a recent report by the World Health Organisation nature play is a vital part of a child’s development. Nature play aids in the development of skills including:
- problem solving
- leadership’s skills
- organisational skills.
‘Research shows that play is vital to a child’s development, equipping them with the skills necessary to tackle humanity’s future, such as emotional intelligence, creativity and problem solving. To be a superhero is to lead; to host a teddy for tea is to organise; to build a fort is to innovate: to play is to learn’.
The authors of the report argue that nature play is a fundamental right of all children, and that by mentally and physically connecting to the world, play empowers them to create and grow for the rest of their lives.
Such is the concern that children aren’t getting enough play that a coalition called the ‘Real Play Coalition’ has been formed. This coalition, between OMO, Persil, the LEGO Foundation, IKEA Group, and National Geographic was formed to empower and facilitate children’s opportunities to grow and learn through play. The group are committed to create a movement that prioritises the importance of play as not only something that lets kids be kids, but as something that sparks the fire for a child’s development and learning.
Sadly millions of children miss out on nature play because:
Many parents believe that the world is a more dangerous place and children lack safe places to play
Parents over schedule activities after school
Children are given too much homework
Many children prefer technology to free play
However, it is vital that children engage in nature play as it allows them to:
Develop face-to-face communication
Develop teamwork and negotiation skills
Become more resilient to life’s challenges
- Shockingly 56% of children continue to spend less time outdoors than maximum security prisoners in the US. If this continues then the harder the search for our future leaders, creators and explorers will become.
We don’t know what the future holds but with the rapid advances in technology including machine learning and artificial intelligence its possible that the education system is preparing children for a job market that won’t exist in the future.
‘Our fast-changing world, including the growth of technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, means that children entering primary school today will be working in jobs that are yet to exist.’
Nature play is important in order for children to develop skills they may require for the future such as creativity, mathematical and problem solving skills.
‘The importance of the skills play promotes in the face of our changing world has never been higher. When children play, for instance, they practice original thinking, which is one of the main cognitive processes in creativity. Construction play in early childhood correlates to the development of spatial visualisation skills, which are strongly connected to mathematic capabilities and problem-solving skills in later life.’
Nature play is also important for developing skills to help build our future society such as leadership skills, conflict resolution, and problem solving.
‘Play is needed to endow us with leaders who can resolve conflict, problem solve, build socially connected communities and inspire society to flourish. We are committed to the idea that any child, wherever they are in the world, could be such a leader. Join us in protecting their real play.’
One of the best arguments for nature play, however, is that it promotes happiness in children. A child with physical strength, an ability to self-navigate, and creative thinking skills is a child who’s less vulnerable to the world. It is a child who will get themselves home, know when to ask for help, and work to resolve problems independently because they do not expect an adult to mediate every interaction.
Memories born out of experiences form emotional “anchors” that give kids comfort during tough times. Experiences also promote brain development and help forge close bonds between family members.
It’s fantastic to see that people are starting to realise the importance of nature play. As parents it is our responsibility to provide our children with the experiences and skills that will equip them for their future lives.
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