wild play

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 .

– Walk home from school or to the shops slowly across green ways.
– Hang out at cafe’s, friends’ homes, community centres that boarder green spaces, and send the kids out to play unsupervised. You can observe through the window.  Trust them.
– Start a hiking club, let the children wonder off, teach them to either stick together, or home to a bird call.
– Send your children to Forest School.
– Start early, spending time outdoors enjoying nature in all weather while your children are young, get dirty, take risks, slow down.
– Don’t bring toys, props to the beach, park, forest: play with sticks, break ice and skitter it across the frozen lake, collect stones and pine-cones, use them to make art, notice and appreciate tiny details and shifts in growth, weather
– Train outdoors, use playgrounds and natural elements, trees and so on as your jungle gym. Check out NatMov!
– Simplify your life, prioritize time together, reduce consumer, driving costs, work less!
– Do mindfulness exercises outside, breathing, yoga, meditation. Do silent walking meditation.
– Do scavenger hunts for signs of Spring.
– Build forts with blown down branches, forage for medicinal plants, gather windfall apples.
– Have picnic dinners at parks and the beach in the Summer with your friends and let the children play freely.
– Join a gathering like Firemaker where you can enjoy exploring and learning from the wild within a supportive village community.
Movements like Wildschooling that has recently reached 40 000 members on Facebook have lots of wonderful resources, tips and inspirations.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post.  I’d love to hear from you if you have comments or questions!
I’d like to express my gratitude as well for the many wonderful teachers, mentors, and forest school organizations that I have been inspired by and have learned from.  I list them below.  And while, doing so, I’d also like to urge you, rather than to pay someone else to do it, to go outside and get yourselves some WILD PLAY time WITH your children, WITHOUT distractions and nurture your connections to each other and to nature!
This March Celebrate Wild Play!
Gratitude to
Garliq Chevrier of The Living Medicine Project, Andria Green Tasha Bassingthwaighte and Clelie Chevrier for introducing me to Firemaker, Herbalism and  NVC
Eartha Muirhead, Naomi Grace of Omi’s Studio, Qristine Hrvatin for believing in me and bringing the power of rewilding through story into my life and with
Elizabeth Bliss of  Amethyst Healing Retreat and Amanda Hansen for your inspiring strength as single mamas committed to nature-connected and attached parenting!
Dante Chicano of Elemental Academy
Andrea Larsen of Nutrition Matters
Ingrid Bauer and Jean-Claude Catry of Wisdom of the Earth
Jenna Rudolph and Sara Ross of Soaring Eagle Nature School
Jon Young of 8 Shields
Lori Snyder of Earth and Company
Josea Tamira Crossley Somatic Awakening Practitioner
Arnaud Gagne and Alaina Hallett at Thriving Roots Wilderness School and Wisdom of The Earth
Bruce Carron at Wild Spirit
Corinna Stevenson and Wild Woman Retreat at Dragonfly Healing 
Helen Pettinson at Inspired Earth Projects
All the staff, teachers and participants at Firemaker Primitive Skills Gathering
All the staff, teachers and participants at The BC Art of Mentoring
And, many, many more….
#wildplay #1000hoursoutside #freerangeplay #naturedeficitdisorder #rewild #wildschooling #getoutside #achildsrighttoplay #natureconnection #forestschool #deepnatureconnection #8shields #jonyoung #wisdomoftheearth #exectutivefunction #naturekids #applestarlearning #applestarphoto



%d bloggers like this: