Forest Holidays gets children back to nature and outdoor play
As access to technology amongst children increases, the hours they spend playing outside is diminishing. Add to that the growing urbanisation of our population and it is easy to see why children are losing touch with nature and doing less and less exercise. Many academics and specialists view this as a worrying trend which is depriving our children of one of the essential ingredients for their wellbeing and social development.
The thousands of children who experience a Forest Holiday are given the opportunity to explore nature, learn about the forest and its wildlife and enjoy the outdoor freedom that many adults took for granted when they were children.
Surveys prove that children are spending less time than ever playing outside
- Less than 10% of children today play in natural places, down from 50% a generation ago. (National Trust Natural Childhood Report)
- Children spend half as much time outdoors as the generation before them did and 90% of children today have never played conkers, built a raft or used a map or compass. (National Trust survey)
- Seven in 10 of the UK’s 5 to 15 year-olds have access to tablet computers, with 34% owning their own (Ofcom). The average time in front of a screen is now over six hours per day.
- “Parents see the value of outdoor play and still it doesn’t happen. Outdoor time is shrinking. It is a gigantic paradox.” Three-quarters of UK children spend less time outdoors than prison inmates – survey (Guardian 25 Mar 2016).
- Childhood health problems related to lack of fresh air and physical activity are on the increase, including weight problems, vitamin D deficiency and declining cardiorespiratory fitness. (National Trust Natural Childhood Report)
- When did our children begin to lose their connection with the outside world and how do we show them that nature can be as compelling as Netflix? Wild technology – 10 apps to get your kids back to nature
Experts confirm that outdoor play is essential to the wellbeing and education of children
- Apart from the fact that it’s fun, the proven benefits of outdoor play include:
- Reduced stress and depression
- Improved physical health
- Improved social and personal skills
- Development of creativity and cognitive skills
- The opportunity to take calculated risks (YouTube: Adventurous play is good for children)
- Children who spend time learning in a natural environment also “perform better in reading, mathematics, science and social studies.” (Rewild the Child)
- “Society is starting to realise the risks that this separation from our natural environment poses to our children’s health and happiness.” -The Wildlife Trusts
Forest Holidays open up a world of outdoor play for children
- Thousands of children every month enjoy the researched benefits of outdoor play on a Forest Holiday and this will increase as the number of our locations increase.
- Our Forest Rangers bring the forest to life for children during their programme of outdoor activities at our locations which involve discovering animal tracks, building dens, searching for mini-beasts and learning about the forest and its wildlife. (YouTube: Advice from our Forest Ranger)
- Forest Holidays works closely with the Forestry Commission to promote outdoor learning opportunities that can be found across the whole Forestry Commission estate, UK-wide.
- Many guests tell us that children carry their new found enthusiasm for nature back home with them, leading to an increased interest in outdoor play.
There’s a win-win here. Children enjoy and want to find out more about the natural world and their experiences of the natural world are determined by adults and we can either give them those opportunities or not but if we do, we know that good things happen.
– Tim Gill, Independent Researcher, Rethinking Childhood
Related website links
Children in touch with nature do better in SATs (TES – Times Educational Supplement)
New YouGov polls reveals a generation of children missing out on nature (Wildlife Trusts)
A Tranquil Break With Forest Holidays (thebabywebsite.com)
24 things to do at Forest Holidays Strathyre (A Modern Mother)
Risk is essential to childhood (Guardian)
Meet the Forest Holidays Forest Ranger (Forestipedia)
Should I let my child take more risks? (Guardian)
Fewer than one ten regularly play in wild places (Countryfile)
Nature deficit disorder: Why modern kids need old fashioned freedoms (Mother and Baby)