Most adults understand the very important educational role that playing has in the physical and mental development of our children. Schools, public playgrounds and private gardens are an integral part of the play setting in the maturing processes of children.
The ability to explore, discover and imagine in a natural, or at least outdoor, setting in direct contact with nature stimulates their natural curiosity and help them connect with their natural environment.
Children learn by constructing their own knowledge about the world, not by memorizing facts (Piaget 1962). We can help our children by constructing play areas in informal settings. There is a great example of this in the Brisbane suburb of New Farm, where a large fig tree has been used for the setting of a public playground complete with equipment set around and within the tree. This park is always in use and children’s imagination can be seen flourishing.
In the private garden, a cubby house, surrounded by shrubbery, at the bottom of the garden is a safe, parent-free area where the child can learn to interact with nature and develop a sense of independence and autonomy. Natural settings also stimulate social interaction between children and promote cooperation.
Our children do not learn of the natural environment through TV or video games. They need to experience it through their own senses. Outdoor activities in a natural setting increase cognitive development by improving the child awareness, reasoning concentration and observational skills. It also offers the opportunity for the growing individual to connect at a deep level. Regular interaction with nearby nature in early and middle childhood allows the child to form a bond with and develop positive attitudes towards the natural environment.
About Patrick Regnault
I have worked in the horticultural and landscaping industry for over 35 years in three different countries.I am a member and Registered Horticulturist with the Australian Institute of Horticulture and member of the Housing Industry Association. I am the owner of Interactive Landscapes, a successful structural landscaping and landscape design business. I believe that what gardens and gardening do is to reconnect people with the fundamental elements of nature. A good gardener will try and acquire a profound understanding of the balance of nature and endeavour to do the best to improve the environment in which the garden is situated. At Interactive Landscapes it is a philosophy that we put into practice when designing and creating a garden, no matter the size. Our name reflects this as we understand that gardens are a place of interaction. View all posts by this author »