Educational and Therapeutic Benefits

TimberNook’s Educational and Therapeutic Benefits

Why do children need to play outdoors?

TimberNook has been observing significant improvements in children’s balance, emotional regulation, strength, social skills, play skills, and creativity — even in just the course of one week. We also strive to provide evidence-based study data and have been conducting ongoing research with The University of New Hampshire.

“The results suggest that the quality of social interaction among the children did collectively differ between TimberNook and the children’s typical play environment. The environments were specifically different in their supportiveness regarding the objects available, the amount of space and configuration of that space, and sensory opportunities. We concluded that environments offering greater opportunities of objects, space, and sensory exploration, such as TimberNook, appear to support better quality of social interaction.​” — UNH Occupational Therapy Research Study (Summer of 2016)

You can download the study’s abstract here.

“Play” is a word that we use commonly to refer to children’s preferred activities.  But what, really, is play?  Dr. Peter Gray defines play an activity that is

  1. Self chosen and self directed
  2. Motivated by means more than ends
  3. Guided by mental rules
  4. Includes a strong element of imagination
  5. Is conducted in an alert, active, but relatively non-stressed frame of mind.

Learning happens through play.

In an outdoor environment, learning through play is inevitable where as learning in indoor envrironments requires deliberate and intentional effort on the part of the teacher.  Often, this type of learning environment forces classing children as exceptional, in the middle and those needing an extra hand.  When kids play they’re:

  • Stronger
  • More creative
  • More coordinated
  • More confident in their skills and abilities
  • More likely to become avid learners who love learning
  • All exhibit at their fullest and greatest potential

When kids connect to nature, learning follows. Think about your own time spent outside – there’s always something new to observe or something new to try. The outdoor environment changes in subtle and drastic measures each and every moment.  

Something as simple as observing bugs crawl around on the ground or seeing how fast you can run can lead to new discoveries and interests. That’s because kids are learning when they immerse in nature, and modern children don’t spend nearly enough time outside.

Children who play outdoors:

  • Improve their balance, strength, hand-eye coordination, and more.
  • Assess risk, inheretley practice caution.
  • Learn how to think creatively – they use that creativity to have fun and solve problems in life.
  • Tend to have an easier time focusing when it’s necessary, like in school.
  • Experience less anxiety when trying new things.
  • Learn how to regulate emotions, socialize with others, set healthy boundaries and more

And that’s just the beginning. You can read more about the therapeutic benefits here.

Play is a biological aspect of development selected through natural selection, consistent in all beings.  This means play works. – Teena Patel

Why was TimberNook created?

Angela Hanscom, noticed that more and more children seemed to have poor balance and coordination, were weaker than they should be, and had trouble thinking in creative ways. Many of her children’s friends needed occupational therapy — something that was once considered a rarity. At the same time, it appeared that almost none of the kids in their circle were playing outdoors anymore. This growing trend both fascinated and scared Angela.

Out of curiosity, Angela started observing and documenting what she saw at local schools – her impression had been correct. Children were noticeably weaker and their balance systems were significantly underdeveloped as compared with the children of previous generations.

These physical problems also were manifesting in school. Teachers were complaining that:

  • Children were getting more aggressive on the playground
  • Kids were falling out of their seats in school on a frequent basis
  • Drastic modifications had to be made to the classrooms in order for children to pay attention

Putting together her observations, Angela finally understood. Children weren’t spending enough time playing outdoors and it was starting to affect their sensory systems and quality of life. Don’t just take our word for it, though. Dr. Peter Gray is an expert on play and its impact on learning and development.

Take a look at what he has to say about play:

Free Play Is Essential for Normal Emotional Development

Can You Measure an Education? Can You Define Life’s Meaning?

Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life

What types of play are important for my child?

There are many different ways for children to play, including free and structured play. Both have their place, and TimberNook Orlando campers experience both types:

All Play Isn’t Created Equal: Free Play vs. Free for All

Many adults are familiar with structured or organized play, where the play is guided by an adult to provide the children with some direction.

However, children need free play for their emotional health, their physical well-being, their social skills, their intellectual capacity, and so much more. Free play is different from “free for all” play, though. Knowing the differences will help you provide your child with the free play opportunities he or she needs to learn and grow.
Free Play is Great, But Structured Play Has Its Place, Too

Free play is an important part of childhood learning and development, but structured play also has it’s benefits. In fact, children need all sorts of different types of play experiences, because each type plays a specific role in childhood growth and development.

To learn more about the individual camps and to register, click here.

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