Play by these rules for some good, old-fashioned nature fun and hands-on learning!

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‘The NEW Rules of Nature Play’ Poster (PDF)

The New Rules of Nature Play

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“Passion does not arrive on videotape or on a CD; passion is personal. Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young, it travels along grass stained sleeves to the heart”. 

–  Richard Louv, ‘Last Child in The Woods’

This is one of my favourite quotes. It resonates deeply with me. I don’t think there are many better ways to help ignite someone’s passion and find their motivation for nature, than helping them to experience it through good old fashioned, hands on, feet in the mud, boots (or no boots) and all, nature play.

I know that for me when I was young, it was in those moments that nature was given the chance to get under my skin and make its way to my heart. Now, as a parent, I want that for my own children too.

The ‘game’ may have changed given the current COVID-19 crisis, but our children’s instinctive need and desire to play and their innate connection with the natural world hasn’t.

Now, more than ever, they need us as the adults to open the door to opportunities for nature play and learning.

Why? Because when we do it helps enhance our children’s physical, mental, academic, social and emotional health and wellbeing. And when we don’t? The gap between children and nature widens and the negative consequences of Nature Deficit Disorder loom.

In his best-selling book, “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder”, Author and Co-Founder of the Children and Nature Network, Richard Louv coined the phrase Nature Deficit Disorder. He used it to serve as a description of the human costs of alienation from nature. It is not meant to be a medical diagnosis (although perhaps it should be).
An expanding body of scientific evidence suggests that nature-deficit disorder contributes to a diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, conditions of obesity, and higher rates of emotional and physical illnesses. Research also suggests that the nature-deficit weakens ecological literacy and stewardship of the natural world. These problems are linked more broadly to what health care experts call the “epidemic of inactivity,” and to a devaluing of independent play.

https://www.childrenandnature.org/about/nature-deficit-disorder/


The New Rules of Nature Play
still apply – with caveats during the COVID-19 crisis around social distancing, social responsibility and strict adherence to the advice and direction of your local health and Government authorities. Also make sure you’re practicing good health and hygiene routines.

I want to encourage you to focus your attention more on what you can do than on what you can’t and look for possibilities for nature and play in your daily family life.

So, whether you’re playing with nature indoors at home or in your own backyard, or if you have the opportunity to get outdoors for some ‘boots and all’ nature play, it’s vitally important that we keep playing by these ‘CAN DO’ rules.

Of course I know they’re not really NEW nor are they RULES, but it’s my hope that The NEW Rules of Nature Play serve more as a reminder of how we used to play in nature when we were kids (and before COVID-19) and that they provide inspiration for all of us to open the door to nature and play more often (be you inside or out).

See you OUTSIDE!

Tania Moloney 
Nurture in Nature Australia

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