One of the benefits of nature play is gaining safety assessment skills. Nature encourages children to be aware of their bodies and surroundings.
Are you a lawnmower parent who tries to provide a clear path for your child? (i am guilty…) Of course, there are times when we have to intervene in a high-risk situation. What we want is for our children to gain the skill for their well-being.
In this article, I’ll talk about the benefit of nature play for children: safety assessment skills.
How do children gain safety assessment skills in nature?
Since we are a part of nature, the best place to practice is right there in it. It encourages children to use all five senses to figure out this exciting world. This stimulation is the key to developing their safety assessment skill.
Unlike a playground, designed by adults, nature provides a variety of options and challenges for children. It is like a buffet, they can pick and choose what/how much they want! That makes nature the best place to practice the skill.
How can we support our children?
First of all, make sure that you are comfortable in the area. Your backyard or a nearby park (a place where you are familiar with it) is a good start. If you are not comfortable, you can always register your child in a nature-focused program.
Let’s say your children want to climb up a tree. What you need to do first is a safety assessment. Is the tree strong enough? What about the surface for landing? Avoid things that are unsafe like a rock underneath or flimsy branches.
Once you complete the check, let your children explore. Instead of telling them what to do, ask them a question like “Is your body comfortable?” or simply tell them to be careful. By doing so, they understand what they need to look out for.
What you can do
Always make sure you stand by and offer help if they need it. Eventually, kids gain both climbing skills and confidence. This is what we want for our children so they won’t need training wheels (our help) anymore!
Learning opportunities for safety assessment skill
Children know how to learn in nature. All you need to do is follow their lead, and ask some questions. What you are doing here is encouraging them to pay close attention to the things around them.
Water temperature – simply let them use their hands/feet. For example, you can ask “Tell me about the water” or “How do you feel?”
Depth of water – if it’s clear, ask them to see. If it’s not clear ask them how they can find out. For instance, using a stick is a great way to find depth.
Walking on wet rocks/logs – Again, ask them what happens when logs/rocks are wet.
Jumping off a big rock – simply ask, “Is your body comfortable?”
In conclusion, children are more capable than you think. Asking questions simply make them aware of their own body and surroundings. Just imagine a big smile on your child’s face ….”I did it!” All we want is for them to be aware of their well-being for the future.
Nature helps children gain safety assessment skills. So, it’s time to connect with nature!