Natural Playgrounds & the Importance of Play

I have several future blog posts in my  mental queue, but when I saw these excellent videos I felt compelled to share them right away. They were produced by Learning through Landscapes and compiled by the wonderful and always inspirational site Playscapes. Those familiar with Pittsboro Parks will recognize the influence of the natural playground movement embodied in your parks.

As a parent of young children I find the conclusions of the videos rather intuitive; what's better than watching one's kids make up games, build stick forts and engage actively with their surroundings?  I love coming across children's creations in the parks. As a playground/ park designer managing fiscal responsibilities, I also appreciate the high play value to low cost ratio of many these features.  Of course, when I was a kid, romping around hundred of acres of woods wasn't "natural play" it was just play.

A loose paraphrase from the first video:  "Psychologists say that play is important in almost every aspect of children's lives.  Play improves social skills, brain development, creativity, supports emotional resilience, physical development, confidence and learning, yet so many schools do little to create the rich play environments and experiences which can unlock these powerful benefits for children."

The second video examines how natural playgrounds in Berlin schools have reduced playground violence and reduced serious injuries.  Because of riskier playgrounds, kids have learned how to better gauge risk and alter their behavior accordingly.  The group making the videos advocates for more natural playgrounds in Scottish schools.  Both videos show many beautiful and fun looking play spaces.


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