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Nature Play - the key to sustainable child development

We are all children of nature and part of the natural world but with increasing urbanisation and development over half of us now live in cities. Children have lost the exposure to natural environments that many of us, their parents, grew up taking for granted. We climbed tress, made mud pies, jumped in puddles, swung from trees and maybe gathered tadpoles from the drains and took them home in a jar- then watched them with wonder as they changed and evolved and eventually make a bid for freedom! So many of those simple natural experiences have often become lost or become formalised into learning as school trips or outward bound initiatives. More than ever, children need to play in nature to be spontaneous, free, confident and happy and to learn all the wonderful things nature can show them.

In our new resources we share some of the power of nature and why it is so important for child development, not only for a sustainable future, but for wellbeing, longevity and most pertinently for our recovery from Covid 19.

Enjoy and share our new animation and poster on Nature Play by our illustrator Barnaby Duffy.

Read our recent article on Nature and the Brain published in ARNEC Connections (The Asian Regional Network of Early Childhood) available at

Let us return to the wisdom of the forest for the wellbeing of our children.

Joo of the forest

Joo is a six year old little girl who lives in the forest. Her world is green, complex, full of animals and teeming with life. Josie loves the world around her and has grown up watching the seasons, caring for the animals her family rears and playing around the hamlet, building dens, climbing trees and splashing in the river with her friends. A school has recently been set up in a nearby village where Joo will go when she is 7 years old and she will learn fast. She is social, confident, risk taking with great sensory and physical skills. Unlike some of her modern contemporaries she has never played on screens and has well developed fine motor skills from playing her traditional games and helping out at home. She has a vivid imagination and good social skills from all the group play that naturally happens in her community. Many people think that Joo and her friends are backward but time will show that her early childhood natural play foundation will give her a good start in formalized learning.

Find out more about Nature Play and how it forms part of our Developmental Play training at and

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