Nature nurtures children
Roberta Antonaci, policy and advocacy manager, The Wildlife Trusts
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
It is time the Government acknowledged nature’s role in development, says Roberta Antonaci of The Wildlife Trusts.
United in the belief that we are part of nature and nature is a part of us, The Wildlife Trusts engages thousands of children and young people across the UK in outdoor learning activities every day.
From pre-school Nature Tots to environmental programmes for young people, we hear first-hand how these experiences have hugely positive effects, and it’s rewarding to hear children say things like, ‘At home and school it can be stressful, but being out here it’s all calm.’
The benefits of contact with nature and outdoor learning are increasingly well documented. Multiple studies have demonstrated that plenty of time outdoors improves social skills, memory, imagination and creativity, and good behaviour. It also has a significant impact on physical health.
Last year, we published Nature Nurtures Children, one of the largest studies into the effects of outdoor activities on children’s well-being and views about nature. The findings were remarkable:
- 79 per cent felt their experience could help their school work.
- After their activities, 84 per cent felt they were capable of doing new things when they tried.
- 79 per cent reported feeling more confident in themselves.
- 81 per cent said they had better relationships with their teachers.
- 79 per cent reported better relationships with class-mates.
- 90 per cent learned something new about the natural world.
Adults and children alike have drawn considerable comfort from accessing nature – in myriad ways – through the unprecedented challenges of this year.
This is largely what prompted The Wildlife Trusts, in collaboration with more than 30 youth-led and environment-focused organisations across the UK, to request that the Education Select Committee launch an inquiry into the vital role of outdoor learning in children’s attainment, resilience, and well-being. This would help identify any barriers that stop children connecting with nature during school time, and the steps the Government can take to ensure every child can learn within, about and from nature.
Meanwhile, The Wildlife Trusts wants to continue to make it as easy as possible for children to experience the wonders of our natural world. Take a look at our 30 Days Wild challenge every June, and check out our Action for Insects school guide, which aims to inspire children about incredible insects and educate them about the actions they can take to help small creatures.
We believe every child, from nursery onwards, should have the opportunity to learn in and about nature. The Wildlife Trusts stands ready to help the Government make this a reality across the UK.