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People often ask “Why is Nature Play so important?” The following is an excerpt from the Nature Play SA website, addressing that very question:
“There is a growing body of research that demonstrates the benefits of children being outdoors in nature. In fact, research demonstrates that unstructured, outdoor play in nature is fundamental to childhood and that it is as important to children as food and sleep! When children play outside they are happier, more relaxed, more cooperative, more independent, more inquisitive, more physical, more imaginative and can be as noisy as they want! A recent Swedish study demonstrated that children who are able to play in natural environments in kindergartens have less illness and better physical ability than those who play in human-designed environments and playgrounds. Physical health can also influence a child’s ability to learn. One study found that there is a positive relationship between physical activity and cognitive functioning, including concentration, memory and language.
When schools make an effort to integrate natural environments into their infrastructure, children’s academic performance and ability have been found to improve across the curriculum. Nature, through the role it plays in stimulating and encouraging physical activity and through the direct impact it has on our emotional state (e.g. through exposure to sunlight) can help alleviate mental health and wellbeing problems.”
As a school, HCCS has chosen to make Nature Play opportunities a priority through the purchase of the adjacent Rivermont Property. The ELC is founded on providing meaningful learning opportunities for its students, so we naturally take every opportunity to bring nature into our program and venture forth into nature as often as we can! The ELC’s daily morning WILD WALKS around the School and Rivermont property allow the children to observe seasonal changes or look for something specific, as well as providing physical activity which stimulates their brains for further learning throughout the day. Twice a week we engage in our WILD WORK, visiting the Property and venturing into “The Faraway Lands” for extended exploration and learning times in the natural environment.