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A Nurtured Life With Mariette Zoeppritz NATURE IS THE PLAYGROUND

“Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart. If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature.” - Richard Louv In early childhood settings around New Zealand the sight of real grass, trees and other forms of nature is becoming a rare occurrence. Health and safety requirements, the work and finances required for maintenance and other reasons encourage these settings to go for fake grass, safety matting, fixed climbing structures and other man-made surfaces and resources in their playgrounds. Considering that a lot of children spend most of their days in early childhood settings, it follows that a lot of these children do not experience much nature in their lives. As the quote by Richard Louv already shows, this lack of nature in children’s lives has far reaching consequences. Only someone who loves Mother Earth will be interested in protecting and caring for her when they are adults. This love grows naturally as children are allowed to play and explore in nature, as well as when they observe the adults in their lives taking care of and treasuring the outdoors. And playing in nature holds lots of benefits for children, too. The following list is just some of the important nurturing, skills, and ways of being children gain from being fully immersed in outdoor play. • Gross-motor skills encompass whole-body movements of the arms, legs, and other body parts to walk, jump, run, climb, among other things. To develop these, children need free movement with ample opportunity to challenge and test their developing skills in different situations. Nature with its uneven ground, trees to climb, rocks to jump from, etc. offers variety and ample opportunity for children to hone their skills at their level. • • Fine-motor skills involve small muscle movements and often require hand-eye coordination. These are important skills to develop in prepa66

Issue #9 | The Inspired Guide | March 1st 2020

ration for tasks such as writing or using scissors. As children pick up small rocks, hold on to branches as they climb, dig in the dirt, etc. they naturally develop and strengthen these important skills. • Being outdoors allows children to develop and explore with all their senses. For example, the sense of touch gets developed through experiences such as digging in the dirt, pulling out weeds or grass, burying one’s feet in the sand, or splashing around in the water. Or the sense of sound is involved in listening to the birds, hearing the wind rustling through the trees, or a stone splashing into a stream. • As children play in nature, they are able to set their own challenges and goals. Once they have mastered climbing one tree they might set their sight on another one, or they might choose to climb higher than they have before. As they set their own challenges, they also learn to take and assess risk. • With setting their own challenges and goals, children also build their resilience, for they may not achieve their desired outcome the first time they try. Sometimes it can even take a very long time for them to finally achieve their goal. But as they are intrinsically motivated to succeed, they build resilience and problem-solving skills with every failed attempt. • Being connected to nature with hand and feet, also exposes children to the grounding energy of Mother Earth. • Visiting and observing the same spots and places, allows children to see the seasonal changes in nature. This builds their knowledge of seasons and cyclic nature of life. • Being in nature grows the children’s love for mother earth which will allow them to grow into guardians and protectors of Mother Earth. Allowing children to play freely in nature, to connect with all their senses and all their hearts is vital for the children’s wellbeing as well as the

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The Inspired Guide - Issue #9  

Read Issue #9 of The Inspired Guide - FREE Conscious Living and Holistic Wellbeing eMagazine! Filled with inspiring and informative article...

The Inspired Guide - Issue #9  

Read Issue #9 of The Inspired Guide - FREE Conscious Living and Holistic Wellbeing eMagazine! Filled with inspiring and informative article...

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