Fresh air and nature have real, tangible benefits for all of us, mama, but particularly for kids. Here are five reasons to go play outside, and 5 upcoming events where they can do it over school holidays!
Being in the great outdoors has always been the best source of entertainment for my toddler and young preschooler. They fight less, play more co-operatively, explore more independently, and the time spent playing together melts all the parenting stress and worries away. Nature’s diversity and subtle complexity is perfect for satisfying their curious minds and active bodies, provoking much awe and wonder in the natural world to these little spirited ones.
When I dug deeper to understand my observations, boy was I pleasantly surprised to find out why nature is the best babysitter in town!
1. Nature play makes us Happier
Research now shows that the bacterium in soil have the same effect on our brains as antidepressants, without side effects! Soil microbes stimulate serotonin production which alleviates depression and stress, making you happier and more relaxed. Digging in the dirt or simply taking a walk in nature inhaling harmless soil bacterium will bring you your daily doze of happiness!
2. Nature play boosts our Immunity
Research shows that children who spend time outdoors in nature fall ill less frequently and have better physical abilities than those who play in man-made environments and playgrounds. A neuroscientist suggests that the bacteria in soil activates immune cells and increases their activity. Researchers proposed that living too clean contributed to the sharp rise in asthma and allergy cases over the past century. Routine exposure to harmless microorganisms in the environment trains our immune systems to ignore benign molecules like pollen or the animal dandruff.
3. Nature play makes us Smarter
Studies found a positive relationship between physical activity in nature and cognitive functioning, including concentration, memory and language. Improvements in children’s academic performance and ability have been found in schools that integrate natural environments. Playing in unstructured and dynamic natural environments can influence children’s ability to learn; increasing their capacity to focus and concentrate, engage creative thinking and motivates problem solving.
4. Nature play holds the key to a lifetime of good Health
Singapore is #1 in the world for the prevalence of childhood myopia. A study comparing the rates of myopia of children in Sydney and Singapore identified the lower prevalence of myopia in Sydney to be associated with significantly increased hours of outdoor activities.
Recent studies shows the alarming rising rates of obesity in children and adults in Singapore, among the highest in the world will lead to more health problems later in life. Other than the obvious fact that increased physical activity will lead to healthy weight gain, children who spend more time playing in natural settings are more aware of nutrition. When they grow their own fruits and vegetables they are more likely to consume them, forming healthy eating habits throughout their lives.
5. Nature play builds Resilient Kids
Unstructured play in nature lets children experience a sense of freedom. Research demonstrates that these experiences contribute to a child’s coping mechanism as a source of inner strength and independence, buffering the effects of stress and adversity during stressful times and further builds resilience to stress for the rest of their lives.
When children have the opportunity for risk taking during play in natural environments, they are empowered to self-assess risk and will likely develop responsible attitudes toward risk later in life.
Ways to Help Kids Experience Nature in Singapore
Dirt is the new game changer for a stronger mind, heart and bodies in an overly sanitized urban city. Time to switch off your gadgets, get outdoors with your kids, bond, feel happier, grow stronger and get smarter. We all deserve a break from urban living with time in nature!
Need a nature fix? Check out our gallery of upcoming or ongoing events that will help you get your dose of vitamin ‘N’.
What: 5 days of creative rustic fun and outdoor free play for nurturing young active bodies, hearts and minds.
When: 28th November – 2nd December; 5th – 9th December 2016
Where: Kampung Kampus, 91 Lor Chencharu, Singapore 769194 (Khatib MRT)
Find out more at www.facebook.com/sproutingseedssingapore
What: Ground-Up Initiative, a rustic wonderland supported by the community for the community with a particular focus on urban farming.
Where: Kampung Kampus, 91 Lor Chencharu, Singapore 769194
When: Every day
For Who: Anyone! Families with children of all ages and youths
More info at www.groundupinitiative.org