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Let Them Climb Trees

Posted: 12:33PM May 4th, 2017 | Comments

How we need to let our children enjoy and be exposed to the outdoors

through exploration and adventure


    I remember growing up with holes in my clothes and mud in my hair. Although this doesn’t necessarily seem like a wonderful lifestyle, besides my mother becoming angry that I ruined my clothes (yet again), it truly was a wonderful lifestyle. There were days where I would be running around my backyard, climbing trees, or searching for “rocks filled with diamonds” in my neighbor's yard until the sun would set. The most memorable aspect of these experiences for me was the freedom of exploration. Free range play may seem intimidating to parents at first, but there are times and places where we need to let our kids have this opportunity.

    One of the most shocking statistics I read in the past month is from a study conducted by Play England (which is part of the National Children’s Bureau) that states, “half of all children have been stopped from climbing trees, 21 percent have been banned from playing conkers and 17 percent have been told they cannot take part in games of tag or chase”. By taking away these freedoms of children, parents may be saving themselves from using a few bandages, but in the end, they are diminishing a child's creativity, development and most likely their overall outdoor time. Personally, climbing trees consumed my days, I truly became creative enough to find a way to spend all my time in the large oak tree behind my house. I would practice my gymnastics uneven bars routine on a flat branch, I would do my homework while nestled in a few sturdy branches, and it was most definitely my go-to hiding spot in a night game of flashlight tag.

    As I begin to get older, I find myself relating to parents who gasp at the sight of a child climbing up that tree because chances are, they may fall. But in that very moment, you must remember how these outdoor adventurous and free play led you to become who you are. Our protective side is trying to do what’s best, however we need to let our kids be creative, get a little dirty, challenge themselves and learn through exploration.


For more information on how free play allows children to grow, check out these links:

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/parents-let-kids-take-risks/

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2008/aug/03/schools.children

http://www.momsteam.com/successful-parenting/unstructured-free-play-important-for-child-development-experts-say

 

Written by Carly WInner, Sustainable Schools: Outdoor Learning Network Intern

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