Natural playgrounds are part of a new trend that is changing the approach to the way children play outside. Rather than making use of traditional playground equipment such as swings, monkey bars and slides made from plastic and metal, they use objects that you would usually find in the woods or the countryside. In this article we will explain the benefits of natural playgrounds and why they may be considered the best option for children’s playgrounds in the future.
Natural playgrounds are becoming a popular alternative to traditional playgrounds.
What is a natural playground?
Natural playgrounds feature a number of natural objects that you would usually find outside including trees, shrubs, logs and boulders. There are no swings, monkey bars or slides like you would usually find in a play park. Traditional structured playgrounds facilitate prescribed play, meaning that each piece of equipment has a single use and limited possibilities, whereas natural playgrounds let the children use their imagination in order to give each object a different purpose. The most noticeable difference with a natural playground is the apparent lack of any adventure playground equipment and instead these are replaced with trees, mud twigs – all things kids love.
Natural playgrounds allow for unstructured play which is not only interactive, but actually encourages children to work together cooperatively in order to solve problems. These are skills which are an essential part of the early year’s development stage. The fact they have to use their imagination in order to transform the natural objects into something else means they will also be developing their creative skills.
Durable and weatherproof
This new type of playground also has the benefit of being durable and weatherproof. Traditional playgrounds are usually made from plastic and metal, which are both very durable materials, but do eventually need replacing. Natural objects have a longer life span and are suitable for use in all weather conditions, whether it is spring, summer, autumn or winter. The fact that the items do not cost anything to replace is also extremely beneficial at a time where we are all looking to make cut backs on budgets.
Less need for adult intervention
There is a huge difference between adult intervention and adult supervision when it comes to children’s play times. Natural playgrounds require less adult intervention as there are fewer opportunities for injury. Of course children still need to be supervised when playing in this environment, but it is encouraged that adults let them play by themselves and with other children in order to help them develop their social skills.
Natural playgrounds make use of trees, logs and shrubbery.
Suitable for all children
One of the best things about natural playgrounds is that they are accessible to all children. Many structured playgrounds are limited for use by children that are already physically and mentally developed. This can be very off putting for children who are less confident in their abilities and can make them feel isolated. Natural playgrounds are suitable for children of all abilities and can be safely used by children with physical and mental disabilities too. It is a great opportunity for children with different abilities and from different backgrounds to socialise together and enjoy learning outdoors.
Natural playgrounds provide a number of benefits which traditional playgrounds fall short on. Although traditional playgrounds have the benefit of being beautifully designed with lovely vibrant colours, they do limit children when it comes to the imaginative and creative side of play time. Natural play grounds provide the perfect opportunity for young children to develop their social and creative skills in a safe, secure and happy environment. Parents can have the peace of mind knowing that their children are safe and can sit back and enjoy watching them discover nature through play, rather than having to constantly feel on edge that their little one is going to fall off the swing or take a tumble on a climbing frame!