‘Nature play’ is a term that is often bandied about, but what does it actually mean? Find out more below, and the nature play opportunities this week in Centennial Parklands!
Playing outdoors was part of most of our childhoods. Whether it was riding a bike, climbing trees, kicking a football or playing games in the backyard, many of us have fond memories.
Unfortunately for many kids today, this is not their everyday experience. Kids are spending less time outdoors playing. In fact, a sad reflection of our times is captured in a sentiment recently expressed, that the average Australian child spends less than two hours a day outside, which is less than most maximum security prisoners!
Nature play is simply unstructured play outdoors. Time spent by child exploring, experimenting and engaging with the natural world.
Here is a fantastic episode of ABC Catalyst that was filmed last year partly in Centennial Parklands. It gives a great insight into nature play.
What are some of the benefits to kids of nature play?
Nature Play WA summarised the following benefits from existing research:
- Children who play regularly in natural settings are sick less often. Mud, sand, water, leaves, sticks, pine cones and gum nuts can help to stimulate children’s immune system as well as their imagination.
- Children who spend more time outside tend to be more physically active and less likely to be overweight.
- Children who play in natural settings are more resistant to stress; have lower incidence of behavioural disorders, anxiety and depression; and have a higher measure of self-worth.
- Children who play in natural settings play in more diverse, imaginative and creative ways and show improved language and collaboration skills. Single use, repetitive play equipment becomes boring quickly.
- Natural, irregular and challenging spaces help kids learn to recognise, assess and negotiate risk and build confidence and competence.
- Children who play in nature have more positive feelings about each other.
- Bullying behaviour is greatly reduced where children have access to diverse nature-based play environments.
- Symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder are reduced after contact with nature.
Opportunities for nature play in Centennial Parklands
Centennial Parklands is a nature play haven for kids in Sydney – just minutes from the Sydney CBD is over 360 hectares of space to explore – much of it being open space and nature-based settings to explore and enjoy.
However, we also run a number of kids programs based on nature play principles and run them throughout the year.
Get outdoors and enjoy what Centennial Parklands has to offer!