More so than ever before our children’s lives are filled with activities that are structured, organized and monitored by adults. Increasingly our children are being raised in ‘captivity’....cooped up indoors, not allowed to make a mess, under enormous pressure to succeed and being ferried between extracurricular activities in the back seat of a car. Worries about safety, increased access to technology and pressures to begin formal education earlier are just some of the pressures that are changing the landscape of childhood. As a result, our children are being denied the opportunity to regularly engage in vitally important unstructured free and imaginative play.
Through unstructured play children begin to discover their own interests and passions, strengths and weaknesses. Research shows children denied the opportunity to regularly engage in unstructured free play are more likely to develop:
- Sensory processing disorders
- Visual processing disorders
- Auditory processing disorders
- Learning issues and academic difficulties
- Poor organisational skills
- Inappropriate social skills
- Poor communication skills
- Self-esteem issues
- Childhood obesity
Children who are given the opportunities to engage in unstructured self directed play in natural environments are more likely to:
- Be playful and have fun
- Socialize, consider others and show empathy
- Think outside the box
- Solve their own problems or ask for help
- Discover, practice and master new skills
- Create, innovate and be flexible
- Consider a variety of options and be adaptable
- Communicate and negotiate
- Stick with something until it’s finished
- Be self directed and self regulated
- Develop their imagination
Barefoot Nature Play Pty Ltd is an endorsed Nature Play Queensland provider and offers a range of services aimed at creating urban opportunities for children to engage in unstructured play in natural environments.
The philosophy of all Barefoot Nature Play services is two-fold. First - children need to regularly engage in free self directed and unstructured play in order to develop physically, socially and emotionally. Second – children thrive when engaging in natural outdoor environments as they have an intrinsic affinity with nature and cannot resist its invitation to explore, imagine and experiment as part of their play.
Barefoot Nature Play programs have been developed by a paediatric occupational therapist with over 20 years experience.