Nature play

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The term ‘nature play’ is new to me but is very much alive and well in South Australia where schools and pre-schools are engaging in dialogue around blurring the boundaries between inside and outside in school and pre-schools environments and encouraging play in the natural environment with natural and recycled materials. Marc Armitage is a world expert on this type of play. He has been speaking to pre-schools in South Australia. The idea is to allow children freedom to play, explore and create as they play. The benefits are obvious: Building confidence, using imagination and child centred exploration. I remember my childhood where the backyard was heaven and my sisters and I had a whole world of our own with borrowed wood from the renovations, trees to climb and sticks, leaves, rocks which could become anything we needed. Schools are being encouraged to recreate such settings to give that sense of freedom and imagination to children today. Risk taking and testing our own limits are seen by proponents of nature play as important elements of children’s growth which in the age of helicopter parents have been greatly reduced. People like Marc Armitage say that the benefits of such play experiences will be life long. As we talk about the survival skills needed by students in the 21st century, this makes a lot of sense.