This March Celebrate Wild Play!
Wild Play! My favourite passion both as a photographer and mama, nanny, and outdoor educator. It’s wonderful out there these days during this magical overlap between Winter and Spring, West Coast Style, and I’ve been feeling really grateful for the wonderful green spaces in Vancouver and my Embodied~Play friends.
I shared an important blog post from 1000 Hours Outside on my page Apple Star Learning recently that is really popular among my outdoor educator community, but that I am yearning to share it more widely. It recommends children be outside 4-6 hours daily! Wow, that’s a lot, isn’t it? It goes on to state, “the current statistics say that the average child only gets 4-7 minutes of outdoor free play every day”!
Why is unstructured or free outdoor play so important? The author of the above mentioned post, Ginny, writes, “Children who are allowed this freedom of time outside get lost in nature. They get lost in their imaginations and they get lost in wonder. And then they rapidly develop. There are many factors why but one reason is due to the rich sensory environment that nature always provides.” And, I couldn’t agree more.
With the children I work with as a mother, nanny, Art~Play mentor and Embodied~Play host, I have observed again and again the incredible benefits of extended, repeated free play outdoors, in playgrounds, back yards, but better in less confining and structured environments, where the mind, heart and body can wander off into imagination, solitude, listening, risk-taking, and tinkering among other activities. I love, of course to document my observations and share the story of wild play through photography!
What are the benefits of unstructured wild time in nature?
Spending time in Nature makes you happier, calmer, kinder, more creative.
The development of Executive Function in children, skills such as resilience, delayed gratification, self-moderation, cooperation, problem-solving, focus and creativity among others, are much more present in children and youth who get a lot of free outdoor time.
Furthermore, time in nature helps parents and children bond and build healthy long-term relationships that last into the teen years. There are incredible resources available to help parents and teachers alike such as this one at the Children and Nature Network.
Above all wild play for both children and adults nurtures our deep nature connection. Core routines, like practicing a sit spot or listening to birds awaken our senses and enliven our relationship to place. “People can relate to bird language in a deeply human and truly ancient way”, Jon Young, founder of the 8 Shields, describes in this article How Bird language Helps Us Connect .
This is all very well, though, but how on Earth are we supposed to carve out this time, and what are we supposed to do outdoors?
Here are some suggestions from my post on my page .