We at Red Monkey Play love natural learning, we have sung its praise many times before. We believe that wooden playground equipment adds a new dimension to natural play. Helping your students learn through this method can help them mature into intelligent and well-rounded individuals. Let’s look at what natural play is and what wooden playground equipment can do for you.
What is Natural Learning?
Natural learning is also known by the term “unschooling.” This term includes a range of educational philosophies and practices centred on allowing children to learn through their natural life experiences. This includes things such as child-led play and social experiences that differ from a normal classroom setting.
This is a great way to break up a school day. Allowing a break from the typically structured classroom setting and routine. Having varied experiences are vital for students to grow holistically. The aim of early years education should not just be teaching subjects but nurturing them as human beings.
Children Now Have a Lack of Natural Learning Opportunities
Sadly, however, children are getting less and less time to spend outdoors and experience natural learning. Many schools are ditching outdoors time in favour of longer classes and less money spent on staff monitoring students. This shouldn’t be the case as the advantages of outdoors time is undeniable.
Parents have a role to play in this too, keeping children inside more. One of the greatest casualties of this indoor migration is the most quintessential of childhood activities—outdoor play. Overscheduled kids have no time for it. Over-screened kids opt for virtual worlds invented by others. And overprotected kids are kept inside under constant supervision. Therefore schools now hold an even more important role to play than ever in giving children the chance to play freely outside.
How Outdoor Learning and Wooden Playground Equipment Can Benefit Children
So, how does using wooden playground equipment at your school help with this? When natural play area designs utilise natural woodland structures, they provide children with a connection to nature. This is because children can interact with a natural structure, and they are exposed to materials that they may not usually play on with their friends, keeping children in touch with the great outdoors.
Developing a sense of exploration and creativity is vital for children and their development. Having an area which encourages unstructured play, like a wooden playground area, will give them the perfect platform to develop this. Skills they can develop include:
1.Promoting creativity and imagination, problem-solving and higher IQ scores, and emotional and social development.
2.Engendering a sense of self and a sense of place, allowing children to recognize both their independence and interdependence.
3.Fostering cognitive, emotional, and moral development, especially in outdoor settings.
4.Improving such motor skills as balance, coordination, and agility, critical for growing bodies.
Helping children to develop gross motor skills and sociability skills, playgrounds aim to get the most out of young children when they are learning – promoting cooperation and problem-solving. With a wooden playground design, children can experience sensory development. By interacting with natural shapes and materials means they can learn about their own natural environments while they are having fun. Incorporating all the natural elements of play, wooden playgrounds can include sandy areas, water channels or a rocky area.
So what can your school to do to encourage natural learning with your wooden playground equipment?
Use the ‘Hummingbird’ Technique When They Use The Wooden Playground Equipment
One method that teaching staff can use is the ‘hummingbird’ method. Parents and staff can often be overprotective and hover over them like a hawk. We like to affectionately call it ‘helicoptering’ at Red Monkey Play, looming over the child constantly.
Becoming a hummingbird means giving kids space and autonomy to take risks, staying on the periphery sipping nectar most of the time and zooming in only when necessary. The goal should not be to eliminate risk. Children need to learn how to deal with risky circumstances or face much larger consequences as inexperienced adolescents and adults.
This means allowing children to climb wooden playground structures, not stopping them from exploring verticality and other dimensions. Being a hummingbird allows you to be on hand to stop a disaster, but gives them a sense of independence.
Give Time for Unstructured Play With Wooden Playground Equipment
Allowing students time to have unstructured play is essential. As mentioned before, we over plan children’s lives now. Hoping to stuff them with every stimulus we believe they need. Giving time to allow them to just do what they want really helps develop their creativity.
Encourage kids to create their own imaginative games and activities, preferably using readily available natural elements—loose parts like water, sticks, dirt, and rocks. Wooden playground equipment provides a great interesting structure for them to explore. This is essential for unstructured play as some children need a physical framework to facilitate their exploration.
Use Wooden Playground Equipment So Children Engage With Nature
Engaging with natural materials is something children sadly are being exposed to less and less. Too often these days, a child’s encounters with nature are dominated by a look-but-don’t-touch directive. Parents fear they must protect their kids from nature at all cost and often do far more harm than good.
This means schools now have a role to play in exposing children to natural materials and nature itself. Rather than saying “no” every time a child wants to pick up a stick, throw a rock, climb a tree, or jump into the mud, take a deep breath and cheer them on instead. Remember, clothes can be washed, and cuts heal.
Our wooden playground equipment allows them to experience the sensory experiences that come along with wood. This can be a great gateway into being confident in exploring different natural stimuli. We offer many opportunities to add additional natural stimulus to our wooden playground equipment areas.
Let Our Wooden Playground Equipment Help Your Students
We here at Red Monkey Play pride ourselves in crafting unique and engaging sensory playground equipment and environments for children which are vital in developing crucial skills, encouraging learning and reaching goals. With imagination at the heart of everything, we have been capturing the attention of school children for over 20 years – whilst always maintaining the use of safe and environmentally friendly playground equipment in the process.
We work with schools and nurseries across the UK to create stunning bespoke playgrounds – and we’d love to work with you too. Discover more and explore our wide range of sensory playground equipment: get in touch today to find out how we can restore the fun into your playground.
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