Please enjoy this article written by Bridgitte at Natural Pod on the benefits of natural play.
The wonders of natural play
More play and less structure. That may seem like an oxymoron for many of you. After all, aren’t you as teachers here to help children succeed? Parents turn to you to help set up the foundations for children to become tomorrow’s doctors, lawyers, politicians, scientists and corporate leaders. So one would think that offering less playtime and more focus on academic learning would be the recipe for success. Not quite so.
Welcome to the world of natural play, where children enjoy unstructured and uninhibited playtime using items found in nature and basic, open-ended toys. Natural play is pure bliss for children and is ideal for their brain development (and yes, it can lay better foundations for success in their adult years).
As an educator, you are in an exciting position.You have the ability to incorporate simple items from nature into your classrooms, and see your students thrive. Watch children’s imagination, creativity and sensory exploration come alive while playing with nature’s toys like pebbles, pinecones, twigs, leaves, and the list of items is wonderfully long.
Allow your children to explore and play with these simple objects from nature and you will see that this form of play sparks curiosity, imagination and builds a sense of wonder, which is a substantial motivator for life-long learning. Natural play also allows children to think symbolically, learn cooperative skills, and teaches self regulation.
Children get to be creative and active at the same time. They love to build teepees out of twigs, fortresses out of wooden blocks, or study the colours and shapes in rocks. This hands-on exploration helps with the development of understanding and inventiveness. As you know, children live through their senses, and with natural play, they discover with all their senses, which is a source of sensory stimulation, an essential element for healthy development of an interior life.
Connecting to the natural world helps increase self-esteem and acts as a buffer to stresses in life. Studies have shown that children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have a reduction in symptoms when exposed to natural play.
The most wondrous thing to note is the exploration and invitation to natural play starts with you and all it takes is very simple objects. Bring in that stack of twigs from outside and see the creative play that takes place in your classroom today!
CEO of Play/Co-founder