At Oak Tree Children’s Academy, we’re excited to offer our extra-large, beautifully shaded natural playground. We currently are designing and building our natural playground — a growing trend in early childhood education.
Natural playgrounds encourage exploration and bring children back to nature using fallen logs, tree stumps for seating, vertical logs for forts, slides embedded in hillsides and other techniques. Natural playgrounds create an open-ended play environment where children’s imaginations flourish while remaining safe. We also include challenging play equipment to enhance development of climbing and large motor skills.
Research shows not only do children use more thinking and creative skills on a natural playground but also they gain other benefits. Check them out below:
- Children who view and have contact with nature score higher on tests of concentration and self-discipline. The greener, the better the scores (Wells 2000, Grahn, et al. 1997, Taylor et al. 2002).
- Children who regularly play in natural environments show advanced motor fitness, including coordination, balance and agility. They also become sick less often (Grahn, et al.1997, Fjortoft & Sageie 2001).
- Children who play in natural environments show more diversity in their play. They show a higher prevalence of imaginative and creative play that fosters language and collaborative skills (Moore & Wong 1997, Taylor, et al. 1998, Fjortoft 2000).
- Exposure to natural environments improves children's cognitive development through increased awareness, reasoning and observational skills (Pyle 2002).
- Play in a diverse, natural environment reduces or eliminates bullying (Malone & Tranter 2003).
- Nature helps children develop powers of observation and creativity as well as a sense of peace and being at one with the world (Crain 2001).
- Early experiences with the natural world are positively linked with the development of imagination and the sense of wonder (Cobb 1977, Louv 1991). Wonder is an important motivator for life long learning (Wilson 1997).
- Children who play in nature have more positive feelings about one another (Moore 1996).
- Natural environments stimulate social interaction among children (Moore 1986, Bixler et al. 2002).
- Play in outdoor environments stimulates all aspects of child development more readily than indoor environments (Moore & Wong 1997).
- An affinity for and love of nature, along with a positive environmental ethic, grow out of regular contact with and play in the natural world during early childhood. (Chawla 1988; Wilson 1993; Sobel 1996, 2002 & 2004; Wilson 1997; Kahn 1999; Kals et al. 1999; Moore & Cosco 2000; Bixler et al. 2002; Kals & Ittner 2003; Schultz et al. 2004).