Washington: Parents, you may want to expose your kids to nature more as according to a recent study, it could yield extraordinary results.
The study also suggested that outdoor learning needs to be introduced more formally into global school curricula in order for its potential benefits to be fully realised.
The report by Plymouth University and Western Sydney University highlights the many and varied benefits to children of learning in the natural environment, not just from an educational perspective but also in terms of their behaviour, social skills, health and wellbeing, resilience, confidence and sense of place.
But it also says that in an age dominated by a full curriculum, busier family lifestyles and increased fear within society, children are losing the freedom to play, explore and be active in their environment and being denied opportunities that could enhance their long term prospects.
The report identifies a framework showing how governments could build on existing and current research and introduce outdoor learning as an integral element of national education policies.
Sue Waite, one of the authors, said: “At the moment, if outdoor learning is part of a school’s curriculum in England, it is largely because the teachers recognise the values of it. With so much focus on academic attainment, there can be pressure on teachers to stay in the classroom which means children are missing out on so many experiences that will benefit them throughout their lives.”
She added, “This report shows that although there is significant research which supports outdoor learning for academic as well as social and personal outcomes, it is only by having that recognised by policy makers that we are likely to achieve universal positive cultural change.”
The framework the study proposes includes pathways to research informed practice designed to generate five key outcomes for children: a healthy and happy body and mind; a sociable confident person; a self-directed creative learner; an effective contributor; an active global citizen.
Western Sydney University’s Karen Malone said as the amount of evidence on the benefit of learning in natural environments on health and wellbeing continues to mount, the question is, is it enough to persuade policy makers to come on board?