Nature Nurtures Children- creating Wilder Lives for everyone

© Helena Dolby for Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust

This week the Wildlife Trusts released a report detailing the results of a two year study conducted by the Institute of Education at UCL looking at the impact of outdoor activities on primary school children.

This week the Wildlife Trusts released a report detailing the results of a two year study conducted by the Institute of Education at UCL looking at the impact of outdoor activities on primary school children. 451 children, mostly aged 8-9 years old, took part in the study, which saw them engage in outdoor activities with their local Wildlife Trust.

Overall, the research revealed that children’s wellbeing increased after they had spent time connecting with nature: the children showed an increase in their personal wellbeing and health over time; they showed an increase in nature connection and demonstrated high levels of enjoyment. 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
children building

© Helena Dolby for Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust

For us at Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust this is fantastic news. We’re delighted to see the positive impacts captured in this research as it adds weight to our own evaluations of the sessions we run. For example, observations from our Forest School sessions with primary school aged children at Swanwick Lakes nature reserve have shown evidence of increases in confidence, resilience, interest in nature and the ability to concentrate on long term tasks in the children who take part in a 6 week programme.

A key strand of our Wilder 2030 strategy is Wilder Lives, the idea that all children, young people and adults should have opportunities to experience wildlife and the natural environment in their everyday lives. We believe that by embedding nature in the lives of children from an early age we can create a connection to nature which lasts a lifetime. The report has ambitious goals, which we’d like to see implemented across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

  • We want politicians and other public policy-makers (local and national) to change government guidance to schools to include a minimum of one hour per school day to be spent outdoors in wild play and learning.
  • We are calling on the Government to create a Nature Recovery Network that extends into schools and every other part of our towns, cities and villages so that everyone lives in a healthy, wildlife-rich natural world.
  • We believe that there must be an appreciation of children’s individual identities- increasing outdoor teaching time in all schools gives the time and scope to help children to develop their own personal connection with nature. We believe everyone should have the opportunity to experience the joy of wildlife in daily life.
child jumping at sunset

© David Tipling/ 2020VISION

How can you help us achieve these goals?

  • Are you a school teacher already teaching outdoors? Become a Wilder Schools champion and help us share your story to encourage others to learn from your experiences
  • Would you like to explore how you can improve your school grounds for wildlife and outdoor learning? Our dedicated team of outdoor educators can provide you with guidance and a detailed report giving you the steps you need to take to achieve this.
  • Interested in gaining confidence in teaching outdoors, or expanding your knowledge? Join one of our outdoor education training programmes https://www.hiwwt.org.uk/Schools-groups/training
  • Have connections in local or national government, a school, PTA, or local community? Share this report with your connections, talk to local people about how you and they could make a difference, campaign to see these changes in your local school and community. Share your thoughts and experiences with us.
  • Do you have a window box you can plant, can you share a patch of your outdoor space with wildlife, or do you have a piece of land which could be connected with your neighbours to create a network through your local community? Find out more out nature recovery networks and how you can help here https://www.hiwwt.org.uk/nature-recovery-network

Tell us how you plan to take action here https://www.hiwwt.org.uk/wilder-action

For the full report, and a short summary see https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/news/new-report-nature-nurtures-children