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Our World Is A Playground

by Caroline Cuinet-Wellings
Posted on 18 January 2013

I once watched a very interesting French documentary about the first year in the life of babies, all around the world. It was fascinating to see the babies, progressing in the same exact way (learning to grab things, learning to stand up etc…), but with different surroundings. It was clear, though, that after a few months, depending on what children played with, who they interacted with etc… the little human beings started to develop their own and unique personality.

We lived in Dubai for the last five years and Dubai is far from being an outdoors playground. The beach is there, yes, but that’s about it, and for only a few months of the year. Needless to say that we made good use of many indoor play areas.

I felt a little nostalgic though, and suddenly remembered my own childhood when we would go back to France, my native country or England, my husband’s. We would see our daughter, fascinated by flowers, mud, and literally getting dirty. I come from a little village in the South east of France and I remember going to my great-grand parents old house. There was a little stream on the side and I’d play in there, trying to catch all sorts of imaginary fish, picking up worms and wondering what they were, and all sorts of other outdoor things that we could get up to in the countryside.

I can’t help but feel that some kids are missing out nowadays because they might not be able to play outside. Some children don’t experience getting muddy, play with stones, in streams, walk in real grass… And also, I can’t help but think that, in the world of today, with all the environmental issues threatening our future, playing from an early age in nature is also learning to respect it.


This is why we are happy that we have moved here so we can offer the chance to our daughter to learn about natural things. Not from the books, or TV programs (although these have a place of course!, but from experiencing it: touch the mud, feel the coolness of the water, how leaves are slippery when they are wet, spot the monkeys and smell the goodness and freshness of the forest…


Last Sunday, we took our daughter to a park and found a little stream running through it. It was such a quiet time of day. It seemed that we had the park to ourselves. My husband decided we were to build a dam and proceeded to teach our daughter how to do it, and what dams are for. It was a fantastic afternoon. We didn’t to try and make our little girl concentrate, she was focused on her fun task the whole time, and that was a good two hours!


Aside from what I have mentioned before, I think children have got a lot to learn from playing outside: imagination, resilience, self-confidence and so much more!


Before we left, we made sure we put all the rocks and stones back to “where” we found them. This is a simple rule to respect Mother Nature.


I’d love to hear from you! Have you got any experience of you taking your children to play outdoors, make things? What do you think they have learnt? Share here!


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