A recent article written by By George Monbiot, and published in the Guardian states that “A week in the countryside is worth three months in a classroom.”
It continues “What is the best way to knacker a child’s education? Force him or her to spend too long in the classroom.
…An overview of research into outdoor education by King’s College London found that children who spend time learning in natural environments “perform better in reading, mathematics, science and social studies.” Exploring the natural world “makes other school subjects rich and relevant and gets apathetic students excited about learning.”
Here at Denmark Farm Conservation Centre we have over 20 years of experience of helping children connect to their natural environment. This all began back in the eighties when our founders Neil and Barbara Taylor set about transforming Denmark Farm into a richly diverse nature reserve as an educational resource. A huge part of this work centred on involving local primary school children in tree planting as Denmark Farm was very exposed and needed a shelter belt and woodland.
One of those children was Daniel Richards who now lives a few miles away in Llwynygroes. Daniel says “I remember coming to Denmark Farm as a young boy when I was nine years old in Llangeitho Primary School. I came to plant trees with the rest of my school. Twenty-two years on and I find myself wanting to revisit. My son is 6 years old, I would love to bring him down to teach him more about the world around us and how important nature is”.
Those trees planted by all our eager small helpers have now grown into a lovely young broad-leaved woodland, which is the setting for our regular school holiday programme ‘Wild In The Woods‘. Local children and those staying with their families in the Eco Lodge or camping spend a day in the woods, build a fire to cook their lunch over and enjoy a meal together whilst sitting round the glowing embers. They get to make dens to hide away, pop some corn over the fire, and enjoy some free play in our woodland play area and create some woodland craft work to take home. Based around the woodland roundhouse for shelter and fire pit for warmth, children have a magical adventure that they never forget.
Just today the BBC have reported that “Large numbers of children in Britain are missing out on the natural world, a study from the RSPB suggests. The three-year project found that only 21% of children aged 8-12 were “connected to nature”. Girls were much more likely than boys to be exposed to the great outdoors, while children in Wales had the lowest score across the UK. The RSPB says that a perception among some adults that nature is dangerous or dirty could be holding children back.
It really is time to put away the i-pad and xbox and throw open the doors to help our children focus on what is most important.
“If we can grow a generation of children that have a connection to nature and do feel a sense of oneness with it, we then have the force for the future that can save nature and stop us living in a world where nature is declining,” Sue Armstrong – Head of Conservation RSPB.