When the majority of parents were young they had a lot less restriction placed on where they went and how they played, however nowadays with safety being paramount and computers being a common plaything children are experiencing less and less time outdoors. This is something that they need to help them to develop but with most parents both now working full time as well as bringing up children trips to the park and out to visit become less and less as the weekends become a time for unwinding while the children entertain themselves with tech inside of the house.
It has been proven that taking children outside of the classroom to learn whether on the school grounds outside of the building or on a school trip can help to reduce their stress levels. In reducing stress by letting them run around this can help them to recalibrate and be more likely to concentrate in the classroom.
To show how different the lives of children are to our own childhoods and spending outdoors the average schoolchild’s time spent outside was compared to that of a prisoner and the findings were shocking. They showed that only a quarter of all children of school age spend more time outdoors than prison inmates.
As well as not being able to spend time with nature and increase fitness, being restricted in the time they spend outside can also cause low vitamin D levels essential for development and increase stress levels. This could be one of the reasons for the recent spike in depression and mental illness. By spending time outside more often children are able to be more creative and solve problems in a different environment where they are more likely to absorb information. As a result of the studies many schools are now including ‘forest schools’ where children have an area of land on the school where classes take it in turns to go bug hunting, build fires and get closer to their classmates.
In addition to helping children in many areas, those with special needs such as ADHD can benefit from being outside as they are given learning tools that they can work with. Being outdoors doesn’t have to mean a multitude of school trips that parents and the state may be unable to afford. You can ensure that children are getting more time outside by arranging trips to local churches, parks, forests and other non-expensive activities. Some schools even take the children on walks around their local area to give them a better understanding of where they live pointing out things they are unlikely to have noticed while rushing past in their parent’s car on the way to and from school.
With times having changed and children spending less time doing outdoor activities it’s important that the integration of outdoor education is commonplace in all learning institutions. It’s an inexpensive way to increase morale and can even help to improve the way children learn back in the classroom. Times may have changed, but there are ways to ensure that children do not lose sight of real nature in favour of screens and stuffy classrooms for both the positive development of body and mind.