A review of new studies indicates that any sort of outdoor activity that gets children thinking and moving simultaneously and spontaneously without needing any sort of adult control can help improve the children's social activity skills, complex thinking skills and can also spark creativity. The study was conducted to figure out what impact nature has on the health and development of children between two and 12 years of age.
“Nature play is all about playing freely with and in nature. It’s about making mud pies, creating stick forts, having an outdoor adventure, and getting dirty,” said Kylie Dankiw, study co-author. In the study, the authors involved unstructured free play in nature (forest, green spaces, outdoors, gardens) as well as natural elements (highly vegetated, rocks, mud, sand, gardens, forests, ponds and water). The results found that these activities could improve their physical fitness, health, learning skills, social skills and even motor skills.
“In recent years, nature play has become more popular with schools and childcare centres, with many of them re-developing play spaces to incorporate natural elements, such as trees, plants and rocks,” Dankiw said. “For early childhood educators, health practitioners, policymakers and play space designers, this is valuable information that may influence urban play environments and re-green city scapes,” Dankiw said. “And, as they play with others, they learn valuable negotiation skills, concepts of sharing and friendships, which may contribute to healthy emotional and social resilience,” Dankiw added.