Do you know what a female fox is called? Do your charges? A recent poll carried out by the toy manufacturer Sylvanian Families found that just 56% of 25 – 30 year olds knew the answer compared to 98% of over 51 year olds. 37% of children were unable to name a female fox and 43% could not name a male rabbit. This new research suggests that the younger generation is losing its connection with nature and if this trend continues, perhaps the next generation will be even less able to answer these questions.
In 2012 the National Trust released a Childhood Inquiry in 2012 and identified several barriers that prevent children from experiencing nature and the outdoors.
- Unreasonable health and safety
- Traffic dangers
- Rise of indoor entertainment
- Finding time and space for nature in schools and learning
- Access to green spaces
- Socio-economic and cultural factors
What are the Benefits?
- Health – Use of the outdoors is linked to greater physical activity which lowers obesity and related health problems.
- Mental Health – Being around nature can reduce stress, providing the child with a greater sense of wellbeing. It has also shown to have a positive effect on children with ADD. One study found that after activities in green settings, children with ADD functioned better and that the “greener” a child’s play area, the less severe his or her attention deficit symptoms.
- Education – Having a first-hand experience with nature make subjects more vivid and interesting. One study found that simply having “greenness” around school areas improved English and Math test scores.
What to do about it
Being in such a big city, it can be difficult to maintain a connection with nature. Luckily, London has plenty of green escapes you can take your charges:
How about you get you and your charges involved in the 30 Days Wild Challenge run by the Wildlife Trusts. Download the calendar and fill your June with something wild everyday!