Children need more time learning in nature, poll suggests

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People believe children do not spend enough time enjoying the natural world and should spend more of their school time learning outdoors in nature, according to a recent poll commissioned by The Wildlife Trusts.

The poll, which surveyed 1,000 adults, revealed:

  • 75% believe children do not spend enough time outdoors enjoying the natural world
  • 72% believe that in school, children should spend more time learning and playing outside in a natural setting
  • 75% believe that school grounds should become greener, wilder places so that all children can experience nature first-hand
  • 76% believe that learning outside enables children to understand and experience things that cannot be taught in a classroom

According to The Wildlife Trusts, the findings from the poll are echoed by young people involved in the £33m Our Bright Future-programme, led by the Trusts and funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.

When asked ‘If you could change one thing for you and the environment, what would this be?’ one of the top three requests from the young people involved in the programme was for more outdoor education and more learning about nature.

Our Bright Future supports learning in and about nature across the curriculum, for all ages and throughout all subjects.

Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, commented on the findings: “Young people are on the frontline of the climate crisis, and it is no surprise that they want to learn as much as possible about nature in order to tackle the damaged world they are inheriting.

“To build climate thinkers of the future we must first teach them about nature.

“But as well as learning about nature, we also know that learning in natural, wild places is extremely beneficial. As well as boosting academic learning, young people’s physical and mental health can all be improved by a strong connection to nature.”

A recent report by Forest Research estimated that visits to the UK’s woodlands save £185 million in mental health treatment costs annually.

More information about the poll is available on the Wildlife Trusts website.

More information about Our Bright Future is available on the programme website.