When I was a nature preschool teacher, I encountered a few interesting questions from children. Many of them were based on their perspective.
One of the questions I had was when we, the nature preschool, had indoor preschool kids joining us.
Since the indoor preschoolers spend more time on a playground, some of them just didn’t know how to play in nature.
In this article, I will talk about one of the benefits of nature play for children: perspective.
“Where are the toys?”
While nature preschoolers enjoyed climbing up and sliding down on this big rock (the picture above), an indoor preschool child stood by me.
For some reason, he looked bored and asked me a question. “Can we go to the playground? There are no toys (here)! Where are the toys?” I asked, “What do you mean by toys?” He looked a bit frustrated and replied, “Like a swing and a slide.”
How can we respond to it?
It may be easier to say yes and take your children to a playground. But this is a great opportunity to show them how to see things from different perspectives.
After all, playground toys are created by adults. Where in nature, children create toys and play. Do we want our children to have a variety of visions for their future?
As we know children are generally curious and imaginative. But it is only when we let them be. Sometimes, all they need is facilitation by us, especially during their early years.
Instead of taking them to a playground, you can encourage them to learn the benefits of nature.
Help children see a different perspective
First of all, I lowered myself to his eye level (VERY important). So I said, “The toys are everywhere! You see, they (the kids on the rock) are sliding down on the nature slide just like the one on the playground. It’s fun to find your favourite spot too!”
Before you know it, I was on the rock and sliding down like a child; a moment of joy. Something in his eyes changed, and he joined us on the rock. He kept playing with the others happily until we were ready to have a snack. As you can imagine, he didn’t want to leave the spot.
Different perspective means awesome toys in nature
Some of you may have a question – what can be toys in nature? What you need is a child-like mind for possibilities. I’ll certainly share some ideas with you. Any rocks and slopes are great slides in nature. Some trees are good for climbing. This one in particular (the second picture) was the nature preschoolers’ favourite for climbing.
What about sticks and twigs?! Most definitely, they are great for a teeter-totter, creating a fort, and much more. The more children spend time in nature, the better for their curiosity. Of course, yours as well!
In conclusion, all he needed was someone to help him see an ordinary rock as a fun slide. As soon as he saw it, his smile grew – his imagination clicked! Just like us, children like familiarity. Playing in nature wasn’t something he was familiar with.
Now imagine how many doors children can open when they look from different perspectives. The more children spend time in nature better equipped for their future.
A few weeks later, he came back, and asked me to take him to the slide (the rock)! I wonder if he will always remember the rock…