"A back- to- nature movement to reconnect children with the outdoors is burgeoning nationwide."
- USA Today, November 2006
What is Nature-Based Play?
Today, more and more, children are spending less time outdoors, disconnected from the natural world. In a technological age, children have become "plugged in" to all forms of entertainment in favor of exploring the natural world around them.
In Richard Louvs' ground breaking book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, (2005) a case is made for the value of spontaneous outdoor play, and creating a connection with nature during childhood. He sites many positive benefits to children from frequent experiences in the out-of-doors as a part of children's everyday lives. He contends this fosters happier, healthier, smarter and more well adjusted children, as well as creating future stewards of the earth. Louv coined the term "Nature-Deficit Disorder" to describe what happens to young people who become disconnected from their natural world. Louv links this lack of nature to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression.
According to the Children & Nature Network, "the World Future Society ranked nature-deficit disorder as the fifthmost- important trend (on a list of 10) that would shape ... the years to come."
Some of the most recent studies and reports pertain to children at play. Playtime — especially unstructured, imaginative, exploratory play—has long been recognized as an essential component of wholesome child development (Burdette and Whitaker, 2005; Ginsburg et al., 2007). Unstructured play, indoors or outdoors, allows children to initiate activity rather than waiting for an adult to direct them, while using problem-solving skills, their imagination, negotiating skills with peers, etc.—all of which is very beneficial to children's learning and development. The outdoors, especially diverse natural environments with varied plants and landscapes, invites children to act on their natural curiosity and, with the endless range of things to explore and question, provides a uniquely engaging environment for unstructured play. Among the added benefits, children's natural curiosity leads to scientific learning—not only specific details of nature, but scientific method. (Children in Nature 2008: A Report in the Movement to Reconnect Children to the Natural World)
The United States Congress recently passed the S.866: "No Child Left Inside Act," 2009 which would ensure that elementary and secondary school students receive environmental education, and provides grant funding for developing outdoor classrooms in public schools.
Many studies show that play in nature is good for children and the entire family - whether in the back yard, the school yard, in community parks or natural wilderness areas beyond, connecting with nature is good for your body, mind and spirit!!!
A SOL Environment provides a SAFE, NATURE-BASED, FUN place for ALL children and their families to discover and explore, connecting with nature, each other and the broader world.
Please visit our resources page for more information on this topic, vital to the health and development of our children.