Playgroups are awesome. A chance for families to come together informally for a morning of connection, conversation, friendship, learning and play. This intentional space offers many benefits to both the parents and children attending.
In recent years nature playgroups have grown in popularity and there is a large body of research making a strong case for taking playgroup outside.
It is now widely acknowledged that contact with the natural world contributes to people’s overall health and wellbeing. You can read more about that here. This article also lists many of the positive effects of nature and makes the link that connection to nature is integral to the sustainable development of communities.
For parents, time spent in nature can be restorative, like a trip away. Experiencing the natural environment through the senses calms, relaxes and centres us.
For young children, being outdoors in rich sensory environments allows them to develop important sensory processing abilities – sensory organisation – in relation to sight, touch, listening, taste and smell and proprioception.
Playing outdoors also develops the often overlooked vestibular sense, or sense of balance. In her book Balanced and Barefoot, pediatric occupational therapist Angela Hanscom describes in detail how a strongly developed vestibular sense leads to good coordination and accurate body awareness that allows children to navigate environments with ease and control. Conversely, failure in developing good vestibular sense can result in fidgeting, frustration, aggression and trouble with attention.
Hanscom writes extensively on her blog about how she sees many children whose lives are adversely affected due to difficulties with sensory integration and advocates a prevention approach through experiences that promote movement and challenge the body.
How will Edutones nature playgroup benefit my child?
Edutones nature playgroup is set in locations that have been chosen to provide exactly the above-mentioned – places for rolling, running, climbing and clambering. The locations have also been intentionally selected to afford children opportunities keystone interaction patterns with nature such as ‘moving body vigorously in nature’, ‘striking wood on wood’ and ‘digging in the ground’, as outlined in contemporary research on child-nature interactions and educational psychology.
Families can be assured that our meeting places have been assessed and managed for risk immediately prior to the commencement of playgroup each week.
Edutones nature playgroup is structured in a way that encourages and supports child-led exploration, discovery and play. Although our sessions include a seasonal nature activity or ‘invitation to play’ that promotes ecological literacy, creativity or motor skills, it is not something children need to participate in if their interests and curiosities are taking them elsewhere. We’ll tell a story and sing songs, but once again children need not sit in and participate if their innate desire to learn is focussing their attention in another direction.
We can learn a lot about children by observing their play schemas. By supporting them rather than directing or imposing our own influence over play we can encourage our children to be curious self-directed learners that develop independence, creativity, confidence and resilience.
More information on supporting child-led play will be provided to families in our playgroup handbook.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for any further queries on the Edutones nature playgroup program.