Wilding Nature Play for Children and Families

Image result for ian potter children's wild play garden

A team of researchers from the Centre for Educational Research are evaluating the Ian Potter Children’s WILD PLAY Garden at Centennial Parklands. Dr Brenda Dobia, Dr Kumara Ward and Ms Julie Regalado, together with Canadian colleague Dr Son Truong, have been conducting site visits, surveys and focus groups with those who use the Garden, which is a new concept in outdoor play spaces for Sydney’s children.

This research will evaluate the extent to which the Ian Potter Children's WILD PLAY Garden is meeting its stated aims, which comprise:

  1. Provide an inclusive outdoor learning environment for all children including culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) and disadvantaged children, enabling a ‘whole-of-life approach’ to education.
  2. Break down barriers to nature play, enhancing the chance of each and every child fulfilling his or her own educational potential.
  3. Make a positive contribution to improving child health and wellbeing and skills development
  4. Make a positive contribution to overcoming ‘nature deprivation’ by re-engaging children, through play-based experiences to create increased environmental awareness, empathy and action.
  5. Build and strengthen community provision of a community gathering space where families, friends and people of all physical abilities and from all cultural and linguistic backgrounds can meet, relax and enjoy being immersed in an inclusive and safe natural environment.

A multidimensional design has been developed for this project to enable evaluation of the Ian Potter Children's WILD PLAY Garden aims listed above using evidence gathered from the key stakeholder groups identified which will be analysed in light of current research literature in the field.


Research objectives

In order to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the above stated aims of the Ian Potter Children's WILD PLAY Garden, the researchers will:

  • investigate the ways that children and families from a range of cultural backgrounds engage with the Ian Potter Children's WILD PLAY Garden and the benefits they derive from it
  • examine the involvement of children from special needs and disadvantaged backgrounds with the Ian Potter Children's WILD PLAY Garden and elucidate any particular challenges and benefits for these groups
  • identify the ways specific features of the Ian Potter Children's WILD PLAY Garden site encourage nature play and consider any associated developmental and/or learning outcomes
  • explore whether and how nature play at Ian Potter Children's WILD PLAY Garden may be associated with increased environmental appreciation, awareness and/or action.
To download a full version of the research overview, please click here (opens in a new window)


For any inquiries about this project please contact Dr Brenda Dobia or Dr Kumara Ward.

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