Wednesday, June 3, 2015

How Protecting Our Children Can Hurt Them.

We recently discovered this article online by Angela Hansom who is a pediatric occupational therapist and the founder of TimberNook. We wanted to share her Three Examples of How Play Outdoors can be Therapeutic because we so appreciate the critical importance of her science and the discoveries that she, and so many others in her field, have made regarding children and their need for physical exploration.

As you read Hansom's examples, we'd like for you to remember your own youth and what playing outside meant to you. What lessons you learned. What bonds were forged. What scraps and bruises healed and were replaced by childhood memories that will never be forgotten.

Three Examples of How Play Outdoors Can Be Therapeutic:
  1. Sledding: If you are lucky enough to have snow, sledding is a great sensory activity, especially if you frequently change positions on the sled. For example, if children go down the hill on their bellies, keeping their head and legs up in a superman position, this activates the vestibular (balance) system and improves body awareness over time. Flying saucers send children around and around, helping to establish a good sense of space.

  1. Walking barefoot in the woods: Walking barefoot on uneven terrain helps to challenge and strengthen the muscles in the ankles and develop the arches of the feet. It also helps to develop a reflex in the foot that helps prevent toe-walking. The sensations of dirt, sticks, and leaves on the bottom of the feet develop healthy touch senses and furthermore, assist with preventing sensory defensiveness on this part of the body. Running through the woods teaches children to effectively and efficiently navigate their environment, while challenging their balance at the same time.
  2. Rolling down a grassy hill: Rolling down the hill helps to provide necessary deep pressure to the muscles and ligaments – improving the proprioceptive sense. This sense is fundamental in helping children accurately regulate how much force to use when playing games like tag, coloring with crayons without breaking them, and holding a baby chick without squeezing too hard. Also, as the child rolls, they are spinning, which helps to develop a strong vestibular (balance) system.
If you'd like to read Hansom's complete article, please visit

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If you'd like to share a few of your childhood memories with us, please leave a comment below.