Playtimes April 2014 - page 41

All of these benefits are said to come
from time spent exploring outdoors
and connecting with the natural
In her fascinating book
Ecolog y of Imagination in Childhood
Edith Cobb proposes that contact
with nature stimulates creativity –
Cobb reviewed the biographies of 300
“geniuses” and found an interesting
common theme: intense experiences
of the natural world in middle
childhood (age five to 12 years). She
sees the child to be innately connected
with the natural world. “Inner powers
alone do not further the imagination,”
she claims. Animals and plants,
she argues, are among “the figures
of speech in the rhetoric of play …
which the genius in particular of later
life seems to recall.” Her findings
remain an important philosophical
meditation on the importance
of children’s deep experience of
nature to their adult cognition and
psychological well-being.
Not just academic
But it’s the children themselves, in
so many cases, who are asking to get
out into nature – and to do it with
their family. According to a survey
by the Children’s Society and the
University of York, children rank
having a garden at home or outdoor
space nearby as number two on their
list of must-haves. This is immediately
followed by the number three must-
have of at least one family holiday
away from home each year, which
doesn’t have to mean taking an
aeroplane. And number five on the
list is monthly trips or days out with
the family. In fact, only one essential
item among the top five (an iPod, at
number four) is a possession.
Furthermore, studies in several
countries show that children’s games
are more creative in green places than
in concrete playgrounds. Natural
spaces encourage fantasy and role
play, reasoning and observation.
The social standing of children there
April 2014
Cover...,31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40 42,43,44,45,46,47,48,49,50,51,...back cover
Powered by FlippingBook