nature play

Three TedTalks about Nature Play with Kids

Many of you saw my previous post of curated TedTalk videos expositing the neurological, social, psychological, educational and emotional benefits of being in the natural world with more frequency and intention. After viewing those over and over again, I felt like I really wanted to point to some sources that applied directly to children. In this post you’ll find three talks that specifically mention the benefit directly to children, but in each case those benefits also spill over into the lives of the whole family.

When recently asked, “Well, who will Sparrow’s Nest Play serve?” it was difficult for me to imagine where the actual benefits of this kind of thing stop. Serving a child – expanding their horizons, helping develop their physical and emotional health, and helping them build a sense of appreciation of the natural world and their place in it – doesn’t stop with the life of that one child. Almost always, that child wants to share their experience with not only siblings and friends, but with parents and caregivers. Whole families can find respite through the small action of teaching one child nature awareness.

In her talk Prescribing Nature to Health, pediatrician Dr. Noosh Razani, tells the story of her urban-dwelling family and the challenges she feared when exposing them to the outdoors. One especially poignant part of her speech revolves around her realization that she was “killing their instincts” as children with all of her concerns for their safety. Watch as she explains how she made the transition from a lonely, overly cautious mother to a professional that now prescribes “Nature Prescriptions” and believes this to be an “evidence-based health intervention.”

One of the most inspiring videos I found came from Nilda Cosco, a Research Associate Professor at the College of Design, and Director of Programs at the Natural Learning Initiative, North Carolina State University. In her TedTalk entitled, What Nature Teaches Children, she presents research on enhancing outdoor environments at childcare centers in Raleigh, North Carolina. The “health promotion interventions,” as she terms them, are not new ideas but are the spirit of a new movement. Story after story, picture after picture, will convince you that these small changes are not only achievable but completely necessary to the health and well-being of our children.

Finish off your inspiration session by watching Rebecca Brenna present Lessons Learned from Playing Outdoors. Her simple formula concludes that “experiences + choices = life lessons.” Among the virtues she credits having learned from outdoor play experience are independence, responsibility, creativity, teamwork, compromise, negotiation and risk taking.

I hope these videos truly give you, as a parent, caregiver, or educator a sense of “no fear, just wonder.” Wonder at the amazing possibilities that are awaiting us if we just utilize our imaginations and the wonderful opportunities nature has to offer.