When our superheroes aren’t busy saving the world, they are going on the Adventure Trail with Ranger Jeff.
From tree-branch tepees to bush tucker gardens, mud kitchens and even functional fire pits, schools are sprouting all sorts of nature play environments in an effort to better connect students with the outdoors.
But while nature play infrastructure grows, new research from the University of South Australia shows that teachers also need a knowledge-boost on how to best link nature play areas to the curriculum and children’s learning.
An Australian study found that while all teachers believe that nature-based play and learning can deliver huge benefits for children, seven out of 10 teachers felt that their knowledge and confidence was limiting their ability to fully embrace these opportunities at school.
Surveying teachers in 50 South Australian schools, the study found that the benefits of nature-based play and learning for children included:
better mental health (98%)
improved cognitive development (96%)
learning about risk-taking (96%)
spending time outdoors/in nature (96%).
Australian statistics indicate that less than a quarter of children aged 5-14 achieve the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity every day and spend just over two hours each day sitting or lying down for screen-based activities.
Lead researcher, Nicole Miller, says the importance of nature-based play and learning for children cannot be underestimated.
“There is widespread concern that children are not spending enough time in nature and, as a result, that they may be missing out on the potential benefits that nature has to offer,” Miller says.
„Simple activities can equally deliver benefits: using sticks to demonstrate how fractions are part of a whole can demonstrate problem-solving in a hands-on way and help children better grasp more complex maths concepts.“
Source: Science Daily