Do you take your kids out in nature? How about daily? I’ve known for some time the powerful effects nature can have, especially on children. If you have ever spent a few hours out of doors with your kids then I am sure you have seen it too. New research by the Institute of Education at UCL and commissioned by The Wildlife Trusts supports what we have always known about children who are regularly in nature.
Nature Increases Children’s Wellbeing
The Institute of Education at UCL conducted one of the largest studies covering 450 primary school age children that explores the effects of out of door time on children’s wellbeing and perspective of nature. Often when I take my children out of doors I notice so much improvement in their mood, interactions with one another, and a increase in positive behaviors. The study showed similar findings, time spent connecting with nature increased the children’s well-being and health over time, and they showed an increase in nature connection and demonstrated high levels of enjoyment.(Source: wildlifetrust.org)
Anyone who has spent any time with their children in nature may find it obvious that nature brings children high levels of enjoyment but it is nice to know research supports what we have known all along.
The children also gained educational benefits as well as wider personal and social benefits:
- 90% of children felt they learned something new about the natural world
- 79% felt that their experience could help their school work
- After their activities 84% of children felt that they were capable of doing new things when they tried
- 79% of children reported feeling more confident in themselves
- 81% agreed that they had better relationships with their teachers
- 79% reported better relationships with their class-mates (Source:wildlifetrust.org)
As a home educator, I rely heavily on the out of doors for multiple reasons that benefit the whole child. I can attest to the additional benefit of building better relationships. In fact, consistent time daily spent in nature not only noticeably improves our moods but lifts our spirits. You can often find us 45 minutes down a dirt trail into the woods, hand in hand, singing old hymns. There is something about being immersed in Gods beautiful creation that fills you with the Holy Spirit. For us, nature inspires spiritual connections while bringing us closer together as a family.
The study showed a significant amount of children felt they learned something new about the natural world, their experience could help with their lessons, and they felt capable of doing new things when they tried. My experience with my own children has proved this time and time again.
It seems every time we are outside we are all learning something new. This past summer we spent much of our nature walks tracking varies types of woodpeckers and learning their common names; mainly a set of Pilated Woodpeckers and two Downy Woodpeckers. Soon our children were able to track the Pilated woodpeckers simply by the loud dull sound their beaks made when they were chipping away at trees. There are endless opportunities for your children to learn new things about the natural world while out of doors.
The Wildlife Trust is now calling on the government to recognise the multiple benefits of nature for children – and ensure that at least one hour per school day is spent outdoors learning and playing in wild places. I laughed a little at this one. Thankfully, as home educators we have the opportunity to spend ample amount of time immersed in nature with our children.
Do you make it a point to spend time outside daily? How much time do your children spend outside each day? How important to you is time out of doors?