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Playing is serious business

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It’s an unfortunate statistic that children of today are not experiencing as many contact hours in nature, engaged in unstructured, messy play as previous generations.

Parenting author and educator Maggie Dent is a well-known advocate for nature play.
“Play is the way babies and children develop their sense of self, sense of the world, and sense of where they fit in. Children are biologically wired to play. Play is very serious business for them.

“Opportunities for play are essential because they help a child learn many of the emotional and social competencies. These cannot be developed through direct verbal interaction with adults. Solo play, parallel play, imaginative, adult-directed and interactive play are all healthy forms of play for children to experience. Children really need opportunities for creative, exploratory play in stress-free environments, especially in nature without restrictions on time or freedom,” says Maggie.

Events such as Wear Ya Wellies and programs like Educated by Nature provide these opportunities in abundance!

Daniel Burton from Educated by Nature saw first-hand the benefits of this free play at their station at Wear Ya Wellies.

“What started out as a space for sculpture making with porcelain clay and natural objects turned into mud soccer! Such awesome energy and engagement!

“We love being a part of Wear Ya Wellies each year and enjoy providing opportunities such as these. We were also overjoyed to be greeted by some familiar faces, some boys who joined us for most of the day last year came to say hi and join in with us again this year!” said Daniel.

“Mud (and other sensory experiences) can be overwhelming for some children (and their parents). In a society that often moves away from messy play, we call these types of experience sensory risk taking — it’s not something we can just throw kids into!

“We were so excited to see a lot of kids — who were completely clean and adamant they weren’t getting muddy — spend some time challenging their senses with a small ball of dry clay, then moving on to sloppier clay, to be later seen, covered head-to-toe in mud!”
Educated by Nature are running ‘fire and rain’ themed days during the July school holidays as part of their KIN (Kids in Nature) Village at Guildford Grammar. You can find the details at their website www.educatedbynature.com.

You can also help celebrate all things dirty anyway you like on Saturday 29 June — it’s International Mud Day!