A diverse play experience can contribute to a child’s healthy development. A big part of this play experience is having a healthy dose of playing in nature. Nowadays, kids are getting fewer opportunities for unstructured outdoor play. Richard Louv called this ‘nature-deficit disorder’ in his book The Last Child in the Woods, highlighting the developmental effects that nature has on children.
Studies have shown that children’s social, psychological, academic and physical health is positively impacted when they have a daily connection with nature. Here are more key benefits to nature play:
- Playing in a natural setting allows kids to use more diverse, imaginative and creative ways to play and contributes to improved language and collaboration.
- Natural, irregular and challenging spaces help kids learn to recognize, assess and negotiate risk and build both confidence and competence.
- Kids who play regularly in nature get sick less often. Natural elements like leaves, water, sticks, pine cone and mud help stimulate a child’s immune system as well as their imagination.
- Children who play in a natural setting are more resistant to stress, have lower incidence of behavioural disorders, anxiety and depression. This gives kids a higher sense of self worth.
- Kids who spend more time outdoors tend to be more physically active and are less likely to be overweight.
A study done by the Natural Learning Initiative included additional benefits to outdoor play including improved problem-solving skills, improved nutrition, eyesight, social relationships, self-discipline, enhanced cognitive abilities and reduced symptoms for kids with attention deficit disorder.
Sending your kids to a summer camp this summer will ensure they get a very healthy dose of outdoor play. Summer camp offers kids the chance to explore the outdoors, connect with nature, be physically active and make life-long friendships while doing it. Find a summer camp near you.