The Top 5 Developmental Benefits of Nature Play

When you spend a year with the same group of students, it's easy to loose sight of how far they've come. That all changed this past spring when I launched an afternoon nature club for children not already enrolled in my Nature School program. When we headed outdoors for the first time, I quickly noticed some striking differences between these nature-play-newbies and the children who'd already spent months in my program.

While my Nature School students could fearlessly climb trees and run sure-footedly down a bumpy woodland path, these children were cautious and prone to tripping on the uneven surface. On the rare occasions when my students did fall, they bounced right back up, with no tears or hesitation. In contrast, children who were new to the outdoor environment were far more likely to become upset or seek reassurance from an adult when they tripped. The children were all the same ages, but there was a clear difference in the gross motor skills, independence, and confidence levels of the two groups.

When I stumbled across Angela Hanscom's book Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children earlier this year, it reaffirmed all the anecdotal evidence I'd observed. Drawing on her cred as a pediatric occupational therapist, Hanscom makes a clear case for both the devastating effects of a lack of outdoor play time and the incredible therapeutic benefits of nature. 

The good news is it doesn't take long for children to immerse themselves in nature play and start reaping the full developmental benefits - all we have to do is set the stage for them to do so! 

Click below to download a list of the top 5 developmental benefits of nature play....

Emma Huvos