• Caroline Matthews

'Playing in nature helps improve socialisation, as well as problem-solving and creativity'


The parks may well have reopened, but many parents are understandably hesitant about returning to the playground just yet. As such, outside adventures remain one of the most popular ways for families to get their daily dose of fresh air and activity.


If all this rambling though nature has taught us anything, however, it’s that there isn’t a single toy that can compete with the endless appeal of a random object picked up on a woodland walk!


It might be giant stick, or a misshapen stone, but for all the insistence that said discoveries be taken home...you’d be forgiven for thinking them infinitely more valuable!


For children, of course, they are just that, providing the props for the kind of creative, imaginative play that many other ‘play’ settings simply don’t allow for.


This kind of open-ended and unstructured play gives children the opportunity to engage with natural elements such as logs, rocks and water, as opposed to conventional manufactured play equipment.


Part of the benefit of this comes from the fact it encourages children to move in different ways to other types of play (eg. By encouraging lifting and climbing). When other children are present, playing in green spaces also helps improve socialisation, as well as problem-solving, creativity and self-confidence.


Half the battle of course, is in kick-starting this kind of imaginative play in the  first place. With children having become accustomed, to a certain extent, and particularly during lockdown, to more ready-made forms of entertainment, there is a barrier of boredom that needs to be pushed through before the instinct to find something to do kicks in... and the stick-collecting adventures can begin!