When we bought our house three years ago I was thrilled, thrilled, thrilled to be moving into such a unique old home located in the historical district of our town. It had a huge front porch, a huge screened in back porch, and rooms big enough for our growing family to run around comfortably. The one thing that bothered me was our lack of a back yard. We love to garden and we just couldn’t see playground equipment fitting into such a small space.
After the first year we were here, my husband built the kids a miniature version of our house in the backyard. I don’t know how many compliments I have gotten on this masterpiece! It has hardwood floors, electricity, a mock fireplace, a porch, a loft, and now a television! And even though my kids and the cottage school kids love to play in there, I know after two or three hours of schooling kids need to run! They need to climb! They need to release some energy!
This is where my neighbor’s yard comes in. God bless her, she has told me to bring the kids over to her yard anytime! Her backyard takes up two lots, has lots of trees, a water fountain, a fish pond, and plenty of space to run! I was a little worried that since there was no playground equipment the kids would be bored and wouldn’t want to play. Boy, was I wrong! I have seen the most creative games develop this year and I can’t help but think that not having playground equipment isn’t such a bad thing.
After doing a bit of research I have found that this kind of play is called natural play. Here are some of the benefits:
Natural play encourages children to think about how to climb a tree, a fallen tree, or rocks. This engages a greater range of muscles and imagination.
Their’s been some interesting research done showing children with ADHD focus better after interacting with the natural environment.
It increases self-esteem, creativity, motor skills, fitness, and academic performance.
Children can learn science lessons while they play!
Naturally, I am not against playground equipment, this was just something I have observed over the year as I have watched the kids play in the natural environment. Sometimes I think we forget that kids don’t need to have things to entertain them. All they need is their imagination, and we all know they have plenty of that.