Nature play is not just outdoor play. It’s child-directed play that happens in a natural space, such as a park or garden. Whilst going to a playground can be fun, it doesn’t put them into contact with nature and offers a different set of benefits. Nature play is children playing with nature and has a whole host of benefits to your child’s health.
But what are the benefits of nature play? Well here are 5 reasons why you should get your kids outside any day of the week.
#1 Increased immune system
Kids who play outside are sick less often. By playing regularly in an outdoor setting, children are exposed to mud, water, sand, which can help to stimulate their immune systems. Friendly soil bacteria (Mycobacterium vaccae) is shown to do this, as well as causing the brain to release serotonin: the happy hormone.
Nature play decreases a child’s chance of getting the common cold, increases healthy gut bacteria and reduces allergies & asthma symptoms. Greater exposure to vitamin D from the sun is also shown to increase immune systems. Happy, healthier children then develop into happy, healthier adults.
#2 Decreases obesity
This one’s simple. By running around and playing outside, kids have a lower chance of being overweight because they’re more physically active. Fitness at a young age is vitally important for health and fitness in later life!
#3 Makes kids smart
When children are engaged in varied and dynamic outdoor play they encounter the chance to solve problems, make decisions and think creatively! This is much harder in an indoor environment where children can be limited to one task at a time. It’s unsurprising then that nature play decreases the chance of ADHD in children and leads to them doing better in school!
#4 Makes them happy!
We already know that nature play releases serotonin in the brain, but it also helps to reduce stress and anxiety. As you can imagine, large, green spaces can be very therapeutic. This in turn can reduce aggression and sleep problems.
Time spent in nature can also strengthen social bonds between children. The social aspect of nature play events gives kids the opportunity to practice sharing, problem solving and working together
#5 You can participate in lots of events!
All evidence suggests that kids do better outside; physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. There is no time like the present to start healthy habits and get your kids playing outside like the good old days.