Look back on your childhood memories and it is likely that you will look back fondly on time spent sitting under a favourite tree, or climbing it, splashing in puddles, exploring rock pools, paddling in streams, or making daisy chains. But will the next generation of children have the same memories to look back on?
Childhood is changing, and sadly, too many children do not have the connection to nature that was second nature to most in years gone by. Nature play is crucial to child development, and happiness. But all too often it is scheduled out as children's time is over-managed and they don't have the time simply to explore nature on their own terms.
Parents should give children space, time and opportunity to play with nature in natural environments – whether it is in their own backyard, at a local park or a nearby lake – not just now and then but on a regular basis.
Here are some tips to help parents and guardians make sure kids get the nature play they need
- Don't over-schedule your child – make sure they have free time.
- Make sure they can spend that time in a 'wild' and relatively unmanaged natural environment, where it is okay for them to make a mess and follow their own agenda.
- Make sure you leave space for them to play freely so they can learn to love the natural world for themselves.
A childhood spent outdoors in places such as parks, lakes, forests or mountains have a profound impact on one's nature. Nature develops in us our innate capabilities, making us explorers and discoverers. It engages our mind, kindles our creativity and provides a serene landscape within us.
Nature ensures that we are physically active, making us jump, cruise, skip and hop. Nature builds in us resilience, allows us to takes risks, teaches us responsibility, makes us aware of the environment and the uniqueness of living beings, instils in us a sense of fairness, and of peaceful coexistence.