What's that muddy stuff I feel between my wriggly toes?
WHAT does a stick taste like?
Natural experiences of wonder for babies and toddlers are critical foundations to embed a lifelong passion to explore, discover, question and appreciate nature.
A variety of natural outdoor experiences for a young child is positive for their well-being, develops a sense of belonging to their world and builds a trusting connection with caring adults.
Research shows the list of benefits of unstructured outdoor nature play is long because such experiences develop the whole child physically and mentally.
Children have a natural instinct to bond with nature and living things but they need the adults around them to provide opportunities and set an example to get outdoors in unstructured nature play from the beginning of a child's life.
Here are some of the benefits we have observed with our families at Nature Explorers playgroups:
- Resilience - to fall down and get back up again, to experiment and learn from mistakes develops problem-solving skills and creativity by being persistent to try things a different way.
- Risk taking and risk assessment - children gain confidence to make their own decisions from self-directed and self-controlled play.
- Calming influence - our trust of nature can calm behaviours, focus attention and increase ability to concentrate and learn.
- Use of senses developed - exploring the textures, sounds, tastes, colours and smells in any weather develops learning skills, expands sensory use and strengthens muscles for gross and fine motor skills.
- Respect and care of other living things - good adult role models show appropriate ways to care for the natural environment.
- Observant and focused attention - how to observe, investigate, imagine and question develops critical thinking.
- Language and communication skills developed - to participate in conversations and observations about ideas or experiences promotes speaking, listening and social communication skills.
Nature Explorers offers playgroup session for children under 3 years of age.
Contact Nature Explorers co-ordinator Sofia Machado for more on this Pottsville- based community program at info@nature explorers.com.au