Wild play and the challenges of technology
What is wild play? Well it is not allowing the kids to run riot and do whatever they like. No “wild play” is about our children having fun playing outside whilst discovering and exploring nature.
We know that we all spend too much time inside with technology, rather than getting out into the natural environment. We use the weather, lack of time or lack of opportunity as excuses.
But the truth is many of us both young and old spend too much time in front of screens, whether it is for work or pleasure as that is the way our lives and the world has developed.
What are your memories of wild play
However many of us remember playing outside when we were young. Some of my most vivid childhood memories are of outdoor play in the woods near where my grandparents lived. In fact “the woods” were the back garden of a house where we had permission to play in their garden.
When we were young we built dens, climbed trees, made mud pies,similar to the way you make sandcastle. We spent hours studying the habits of ants, ladybirds, and caterpillars. Even watching the clouds became a topic of interest as we discussed what super human person they resembled.
As we got older we enjoyed sitting in tree houses and camps, where we spent our time playing cards and putting the world to rights, along with discussing homework, parents and chores. But my over-riding memories of this time in my life were positive, uplifting and best of all it was simple and free.
What research tells us about outside play
Statistics suggest that children now are spending far less time with nature than their parents did and even less time than their grandparents. In a recent survey survey by England’s largest learning project Natural Connections, it was found that only 8% of school age children in England get out of their classrooms and into green spaces.
This is both a little concerning and surprising when 92% of schools said that spending time with nature improves pupils’ health and well-being, whilst also engaging them with learning. This follows a YouGov study which found that 78% of parents are concerned that children don’t spend time interacting with nature and getting out in the fresh air whatever the season and having some “wild play.
It is great if your school encourages learning through exploring nature first hand but we can’t leave it all to the schools to encourage this kind of creative learning. So encouraging your own children to get out into the garden or your local park is a great way for everyone to get some fresh air and exercise which will help them feel better, sleep better and learn better.
Inspiration and ideas for “wild play”
There is lots of information out there to family help the family enjoy the benefits of some wild play. Here are some websites to definitely take a look at if you need some inspiration like the National Trust have many ideas of family activities that everyone can participate in.
Technology is a wonderful thing, and can support a child’s understanding of the world, but it is even more beneficial for them to experience wildlife and nature in real life, rather than just watching it on TV. The benefits of them doing so will will result in improved health and sense of well-being too.