Is your child getting their fresh air fix?

Hello to you all. And welcome!

This week, inspired by the headmistress of a London girls' school, I would like to ask you this: is your child affected by Nature Deficit Disorder? Is too much time being spent indoors, perhaps looking at a screen or even studying? Should you be encouraging an escape to the outdoors in pursuit of fresh air?

The Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, noted a few days ago that while schooling is definitely a fundamental part of child development, what you do academically is only part of the story. I agree 100%. He has suggested that children should have a bucket list of things to achieve before they leave primary school. Suggestions include climbing a tree, sleeping under canvas (though I think its now a technical fabric of some kind - not quite the nostalgia of the Scouts in the 1950s here), and learning how to use a compass. Bear Grylls - bring it on!

Several years ago, I presented an item on Nature Deficit Disorder for BBC Countryfile. Experts are increasingly worried that children have limited contact with the real world around them, particularly with nature, and that an attachment or addiction to screens and devices might result in them being unable to connect with the outdoors. 

Shocking statistics from government funded research just two years ago, revealed that one in nine children in England had not set foot in a park, forest, beach or any other 'natural' environment for at least 12 months. Other recent research showed that over 70% of children in the UK spend less time outside than prison inmates. And while a National Trust survey found that 9 out of 10 parents would prefer their children to spend their early years connecting with nature, today’s children spend half the time their parents did playing outside. All of this set against the fact that children who regularly play outdoors have been shown to be happier, healthier, more confident and less anxious.

With this in mind, I have devised a little general knowledge test which I hope you will enjoy. See how many of the images below your child can identify. Try it on the grandparents, the childminder, your work colleagues too. And when you have done the quiz, if you need to, take action. All of you. And connect with nature! My gems of wisdom follow the quiz:

 

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Answers can be found at the end of this blog.

 

How many did you get? All of them? My husband didn't but maybe this is because he knows more about mountains than woodland. If you didn't get them all fear not! You might like to consider my gems of wisdom to help you make a stronger connection with our natural environment.

LISTEN TO THE BIRDS - Plan ahead to International Dawn Chorus Day on the first Sunday in May every year. Its an early start …. but you wont forget it!

GO FOR A WALK - Follow a trail or footpath - get some inspiration from https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk or https://www.walkingbritain.co.uk

LOOK AT THE CLOUDS - it’s a free art gallery.

MARVEL AT THE MILKY WAY - Leave the light pollution of the city behind and gaze up at the incredible night skies above us.

BE BESIDE THE SEASIDE - The UK has one of the longest national coastlines in Europe. Go and visit the cliffs, shores, sand dunes and saltmarshes. Can you hear them calling?

GROW A KITCHEN GARDEN - Buy herbs and keep them in your kitchen window. See last week’s blog on the benefits of rosemary. https://www.jumpingyak.com/blogs/gems-of-wisdom/secrets-of-the-11-and-other-entrance-exams-part-ii

WATCH A TELEVISION PROGRAMME!!! Seriously, don’t underestimate the value of learning from an expert in your own living room. Choose something from BBC iPlayer: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/categories/documentaries-science-and-nature/featured

So, there's no excuse for staying in. Leave the screens at home, get out and seek that fresh air. And if your child learns something about nature, so much the better.

Answers to the quiz are here: https://www.jumpingyak.com/pages/answers

Until next time, when I'll be continuing on the theme of nature and the great outdoors with books that your child could read to give them a wider vocabulary to support their creative writing, farewell.

Katie 

 

  

All images taken from Unsplash, a website dedicated to sharing stock photography under the Unsplash license, Usborne Spotter's Cards (below) available at all good bookshops 😊 and my own collection.