Play is a vital part of childhood and growing up. Children learn through play to develop social, physical and emotional skills. Providing children with an outdoor learning environment that incorporates areas for quiet, natural, creative, active and stimulating play will allow children to learn whilst using their imagination. By inviting a child to use their initiative and explore possibilities we provide them with the best opportunities to learn.
The National Quality Standard (NQS) for Early Childhood Education and Care and School Age Care 3.1.3 states a requirement for outdoor spaces to include natural elements and materials which allow for multiple uses.
Remember your own childhood. Where was your favourite place to play? The inclusion/addition of natural elements such as a few logs, boulders and plantings, for example, can easily be added to a playspace to create a natural environment.
Natural playspaces create opportunities for children to experience both risk and challenge and can also be a safe place for children to explore.
When planning a natural playspace ensure that:
- it complies with the Australian Standards for playgrounds e.g. adequate falling space/impact areas and playground surfacing are provided surrounding higher features
- play value is optimised
- clear pathways are provided
- non-toxic plants are selected and that plants with sharp or spiky features are avoided
- loose parts such as small logs, leaves, seed pods, cones etc. are readily available for children to incorporate in their play
- boulders and rocks used to construct sandpit edges, creek beds, stepping stones etc. have rounded edges and are non-slippery even when wet.
Rocks and Boulders
Cleverly arranged rocks and boulders are safe. Children have a healthy respect for the solidity and hardness of rocks and boulders and develop their own sense of care, concern, and safety when they climb on them. Click here to read more.