Play? Naturally! By Kate Macairt
Today is Outdoor Classroom Day 2020! As we tentatively begin to emerge from our safe spaces how are we going to re-adjust to human contact and integration? The enforced lock-down has in many ways been merely an exaggeration of the increasing individual isolation our modern world has created.
I grew up in the 1960’s, by the end of the 60’s watching telly had become what we did and staying in to watch a favourite programme topped going out to play with friends. How accustomed to virtual entertainment, virtual communication, virtual shopping, virtual play had we become before March 23rd?
Many of us in the wilderness and foraging community utilise Instagram/Facebook etc. to communicate, technology is great and helps support global connection, but we need to ‘stay alert’!
Physical play is important. Playing is fundamental to animals and that includes human animals. Playing is the way the body and brain connect through the central nervous system.
Playing must be a sensory experience, what we hear, smell, see, taste and touch provides essential data for our brains and it is these sensations which lay the foundation of our ‘story’; our understanding of where we came from and who we are in relation to others and environment. If we limit the diversity of the sensory inputs, we limit our growth.
In his book ‘Flow; the classic work of how to achieve happiness’, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes the super-power we all possess:
“The integrated cells and organs that make up the human organism are an instrument that allows us to get in touch with the rest of the universe. The body is like a probe full of sensitive devices that tries to obtain what information it can from the awesome reaches of space.it is through the body that we are related to one another and to the rest of the world”.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi p115 Flow 2002 isbn 9780712657594)
When we are in the FLOW we feel a sense of belonging and connection. Playing outdoors is going to be a very essential element to the post lock-down healing process.
For many of us we have been lucky and have taken a walk every day in which we have enjoyed smells, sounds, sights, textures and tastes of nature’s gifts. You know the benefits of spending time outdoors in a wood, on a beach, in a field, up a mountain.
The lock-down and enforced entrapment and isolation has encouraged many more people to get out and take walks. There are numerous reports produced in recent weeks of the health benefits both physical and mental of getting outdoors.
In the weeks months and years to come enriched and diverse sensory experiences will be vital. The urban street may seem a concrete jungle – but there is a real living jungle of insects, plants and birds lurking and hiding in surprising places.
If we limit our sensory inputs to those of the mass- produced body spray, processed food, nylon plastic etc we are limiting our future.
Circle of Life Rediscovery (CIC) has been advocating outdoor play for many years. Our Nature Play training provides guidance, ideas and activities to help encourage children in your care to connect and find joy in natural materials and natural outdoor spaces. In our second Nature play webinar we will be providing more information on health benefits and ideas for games and activities to play outdoors and practical ways to bring the outdoors inside.
Happy Outdoor Classroom Day 2020!
Free online webinar
When: Thursday 4th June 3pm – 3.45pm
Register here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
This shorter Interactive Webinar with Kate Macairt and Marina Robb will provide more information on health benefits of the outdoors, ideas for games and activities to play in the outdoors. We will suggest simple ways to bring the outdoors inside, for those with limited outdoor access. All our work is framed within the idea of the Nature Play Continuum.
Marina Robb is founder and Managing Director of Circle of Life Rediscovery CIC, a leading outdoor learning organisation. She is Author of ‘Learning with Nature’, considered a must-have book for Forest School & Outdoor practitioners. Marina has been the recipient of funding from Natural England, Mind and The National Lottery, amongst other grant makers for her outdoor work with disadvantaged teenagers, families and young people. Read more.
Kate Macairt is an experienced Play Therapist and Child Counsellor who has been working with children and young adults for over 10 years as Therapist and previously 15 years as Teacher. Her background is in Expressive Arts Education and her interest in the significance of the creative instinct led her to research creativity and its connection to well-being and academic achievement as part of a Masters in Education. The discovery of Play Therapy persuaded her to re-train and she moved from Creative Teacher to Creative Play Therapist. Kate’s passion and love of Mother Nature and spending time outside has infiltrated into her role as a Teacher of Art and Play Therapist. Read more.
Transforming education, health and family through nature.
Circle of Life Rediscovery provides exciting and highly beneficial nature-centred learning and therapeutic experiences for young people, adults, and families in Sussex woodlands, along with innovative continuing professional development for the health, well being and teaching professionals who are supporting them.