What is a natural playground? Simply stated, a natural playground, nature playscape, green playground or natural play environment is an area where kids ...
What is a natural playground? Simply stated, a natural playground, nature playscape, green playground or natural play environment is an area where kids can play with natural elements such as sand, water, wood and living plants. Think about when you were a child. Did you have a favorite place to play in a natural environment? Chances are, you did, maybe in a nearby vacant lot, a field, wood lot, a park, or even your back yard. Today, many children simply lack the time to engage in this kind of play. Many families' calendars are filled with obligations; children spend most of their day in school, daycare, and organized after-school activities. Moreover, when children finally have some time to themselves they tend to flock to electronic games and television instead of going outside. In addition to much diminished exposure to the natural world, children lack the free, self-directed playtime needed to invent their own activities and games. Planned, adult-coordinated activities during and after school, as well as electronic games and television, limit a child's ability to engage in exploration and free expression. Research indicates that this ability, along with access to natural settings, is critical to children's development in every major way: intellectually, emotionally, socially, spiritually and physically. Benefits of increased free time and access to natural areas include improved concentration & impulse control, emotional coping & stress reduction, stimulation of creativity, reduced symptoms ADD and ADHD, and improved motor coordination. Luckily, an increasing number of schools, daycare facilities and municipal park departments are starting to understand the link between these benefits and built play environments.
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