Go wild: Natural playgrounds and their benefits
There has been a lot documented about the benefits of being out in nature, from the sense of wellbeing you get from being able to hear birdsong, to the peace and tranquillity you can receive from a good view. Research has shown that the same holds true for children and outside play, particularly on playgrounds made from natural materials.
Creativity and collaboration
Locating playgrounds in natural surroundings and engaging with nature can provide untold benefits, particularly for children who are shy or nervous in an indoor setting. Improved physical and mental health, along with greater creativity and collaboration are generally benefits attributed to this. Nature playgrounds can involve play items created from natural materials like sand and wood, which are environmentally friendly to produce and sit comfortably within the natural environment.
Back to nature
In addition to play equipment made from natural materials, a natural playground can also make use of truly natural elements such as logs, tree stumps, boulders and plants. These organic landscapes can prove to be exciting challenges and lend themselves to encouraging opportunities for children to play and explore, using their imagination.
In addition to the health benefits, studies have suggested that natural playgrounds encourage children to spend more time simply being children – exploring, running, jumping, climbing and generally playing – than within traditional playground environments. The freedom provided by these environments can also help increase socialisation, problem-solving and empathy.
The wider world
Natural playgrounds don’t just benefit the individual, they also provide collective benefits. Outside play is something that children almost everywhere can take part in, so there is the potential to create a shared experience, it is also a good way to ensure that they learn to appreciate and protect their natural environment – preserving our planet.