Let nature in

Issue: Volume 97, Number 18

Reference #: 1H9mUB

While the benefits of outdoor play have long been known, today’s children are spending more and more time inside on their digital devices. Is it time to revisit how to get kids outside?

TimberNook kids enjoy roasting marshmallows over a fire to warm up.

TimberNook Wellington director Kelly Mouat has a PhD in clinical psychology and research experience in adolescent health. She sees the benefits of playing freely outdoors for both physical health and mental wellbeing.

“Getting out the door is the hardest part; you’ve got to start simple and just get out and do it,” says Kelly.

TimberNook is an outdoor programme available in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the UK and the US that uses the environment as inspiration for creative play opportunities that challenge children’s minds, bodies and senses.

Everybody helps pack up after a long day of play.

While children aged 5 to 13 on a recent programme were making forts in the forest and roasting marshmallows around a fire, Kelly offered some tips on how to get children outside:

Start simple. You don’t have to go on a massive adventure or a hike; it can be as simple as getting a blanket and sitting in the backyard.

Take your lunch and eat together outside. Or even easier, take your morning tea or afternoon snack and pop outdoors.

Get the kids engaging in an activity. It could be an organised sport, or a casual game you made up yourself (or let them make it up!)

Getting out to a community playground can be great for socialising and meeting other children.

Finlay shows off a crossbow he made out of sticks and tape.

Don’t limit yourself to organised places – get a group of children together to play. Organise friends to meet somewhere, like a nature space, and let the kids have the time to come up with what they want to do.

To see the TimberNook programme(external link) in action

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

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