Back to nature

Traipsing across the balancing log and tightrope, making a river at the water pump station and hanging out in the teepee – wherever St Stephen’s School Carramar’s Early Years students decided to explore their brand-new nature playground, you couldn’t wipe the smiles off their faces.

The nature play area has replaced an older playground on the St Stephen’s Crescent side of the Carramar campus, creating an exciting natural adventure zone for little ones.

Research has shown how nature play areas are beneficial for young students and, following the success of its outdoor Kindergarten nature space, St Stephen’s School was committed to extending the opportunities for more to enjoy.

The space includes monkey bars, ladder walks, a bridge, rock seating, a bike path and turning circle made from natural materials amongst plenty of mature green trees.

“It is a natural haven that encourages children to explore, discover, question and achieve,” St Stephen’s School Principal Mrs Donella Beare said.

“Research shows that less structured play in natural outdoor spaces provides children with opportunities to encounter diverse experiences, helping decision-making that stimulates their ability to problem-solve and increase creativity.”

“These types of activities often promote better concentration, higher cognitive functioning and, for some students, a possible increase in future academic performance.”

St Stephen’s School Carramar Head of Campus Mr Brett Roberts said the community had been watching the space come together with anticipation.

“Our close-knit community often hang around after school to catch up and they have been keen to see the natural elements take shape, so it is wonderful that it is now there for all to enjoy,” he said.

“The students who were first to test it out were ecstatic – they didn’t want to go back to class! But the great thing is that spaces like this encourage outdoor learning and curriculum-driven nature play that assists in students’ development, not just academically, but socially, physically and spiritually.”

The space was officially opened to the School community on Friday, February 26, with a small ceremony where Mrs Beare and Mr Roberts cut a vine, instead of a traditional red ribbon, to signify the importance of nature.

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