Playing on the wid side

Experiencing nature

Experiencing nature - Credit: Archant

When you were a child and you had free time, what did you spend it doing? Did you climb trees, build dens or make daisy chains and petal perfume? Most people are lucky enough to have fantastic memories of playing outside, in and with nature, but sadly this is not the case for so many children today.

For lots of different reasons, today’s children spend significantly less time outdoors than their parents and grandparents did. Understandably, we worry about the safety of our children and grandchildren and we’re not all lucky enough to live close to appropriate natural playgrounds. Along with this, there’s the muck, mud and grass stains to deal with! But should we let worries about washing clothes get in the way of our children embracing nature? For the RSPB there is only one answer, and here’s why.

Nature is magical, or it can certainly seem that way with the benefits it can provide for all children. Playing outside can stimulate a child’s imagination and aids their sensory development, which in turn can assist them in their education. There is also evidence to suggest that behaviour can be improved, along with language skills. The sunshine provides vital Vitamin D which can improve mood and health overall. It’s also a chance to get them exercising without them necessarily realising it. Nature provides a chance for learning about the environment, life cycles and natural history. Learning happens best when you can explore things for yourself, like collecting conkers, watching tadpoles grow into frogs or watching birds hunt for food and so on. All these things can help a child build a relationship with nature and gather those precious memories they will one day hold dear.

At the RSPB South Essex reserves, there are plenty of opportunities for families to bring their children along for a fun-filled adventure. Wild Play Days will be held throughout the summer holidays each week at Wallasea Island, West Canvey Marsh and Bowers Marsh. In the past, activities have included a mud kitchen with time to get creative making muddy cupcakes or mudfaces. You could also try your hand at shelter building with the assistance of RSPB volunteers. Children can make potions and play games or simply go rolling down hills. Activities will vary from week to week and between reserves, so you can visit each week and get a unique experience. This is also a great chance to explore the RSPB reserves and discover the wildlife that’s right on your doorstep.

So whether you and your children are veteran foragers or you need a bit of guidance to play outside, come along to Wild Play Days over the summer holidays.