When our children grow up and look back on their most treasured childhood memories, what will they remember? Will they have memories of climbing a tree as high as they’ve ever been before, or riding a bike down a hill so fast they thought they would never be able to stop? Will they remember having tea parties in a secret hiding spot in the garden or carting all your kitchen pots and pans outside so they could make mud pies?
These are our childhood memories. We grew up playing outside. Adventures were limitless. We weren’t constrained by time or other activities, homework or our parents. It was free play outdoors. It was spontaneous, exhilarating, fun and exactly how we wanted to play. This was nature play and for most of us, the best time we ever had.
Two decades on, this type of play is no longer the norm. Unintentionally, our children’s lives have become characterized by technology, structure and inactivity. Having the time and opportunity to explore and create fun on their own is no longer a rite of passage for children.
This type of play is vital for children’s development, and for their health, happiness and wellbeing. It can combat obesity and the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Children will learn self-control over their actions and decisions. They will learn to take risks and to problem solve on their own. They will learn important life lessons and they will have the best fun they have ever had.
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