Children learn from growing things. People of all ages can enjoy gardening, growing and nature, but children in particular will have lots of fun and gain special benefits.
Gardening is educational and develops new skills including:
• Responsibility – from caring for plants
• Understanding – as they learn about cause and effect (for example, plants die without water and weeds compete with plants)
• Self-confidence – from achieving their goals and enjoying the food they have grown
• Love of nature – a chance to learn about the outdoor environment in a safe and pleasant place
• Reasoning and discovery – learning about the science of plants, animals, weather, the environment, nutrition and simple construction
• Physical activity – doing something fun and productive
• Cooperation – including shared play activity and teamwork
• Creativity – finding new and exciting ways to grow food
• Nutrition – learning about where fresh food comes from.
Frightening research, as part of a survey by Unilever, reveals that almost three quarters of children spend less time, on average, outdoors than prisoners! The survey questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 parents of five to12 year olds and found 74% of children spent less than 60 minutes playing outside each day. UN guidelines for prisoners require “at least one hour of suitable exercise in the open air daily”.
Parents in the UK are almost twice as likely as the global average to admit that their children spend less than half an hour playing outside per day, while almost one in five said their offspring do not go out at all for recreation on a typical day. British parents also estimated that their children spend 26%, on average, of their free time inside in front of a screen.
We need to help redress this balance and get our children off computers, tablets and phones and get them outdoors, interacting with nature and out in the garden growing, discovering and exploring.
When they are indoors we need to get them off their computers and screens and doing something fun and creative.
Interestingly, the highest sited reason for UK children not going outdoors was the weather. Let’s face it, we don’t always have great weather in the UK – it can be cold, windy and rainy – but on most days it is possible to put on a coat, wellies, hat and gloves and still go outdoors, at least for a little while.
There is certainly no App that can replace the outdoors!
Founder of Willow & Wild Box, Roz Harvey says, “It’s actually really frightening what current research tells us about how little time today’s children spend outside and how we have all become detached from nature and the natural world around us.”