Norfolk Wildlife Trust calls for every child to have a daily one-hour nature boost
The Wildlife Trusts commissioned a study by the Institute of Education at UCL to evaluate the impact that experiencing nature has upon children. The study focused on more than 450 primary school children and the effects of Wildlife Trust-led activities on their wellbeing. This is one of the largest studies into the effects of outdoor activities on children’s wellbeing and views about nature.
Overall, the research revealed that children’s wellbeing increased after they had spent time connecting with nature: the children showed an increase in their personal wellbeing and health over time; they showed an increase in nature connection and demonstrated high levels of enjoyment. The children also gained educational benefits as well as wider personal and social benefits:
Nigel Doar, The Wildlife Trusts’ director of strategy said:
- 90% of children felt they learned something new about the natural world
- 79% felt that their experience could help their school work
- After their activities 84% of children felt that they were capable of doing new things when they tried
- 79% of children reported feeling more confident in themselves
- 81% agreed that they had better relationships with their teachers
- 79% reported better relationships with their class-mates
“This research shows that children experience profound and diverse benefits through regular contact with nature. Contact with the wild improves children’s wellbeing, motivation and confidence. The data also highlights how children’s experiences in and around the natural world led to better relationships with their teachers and class-mates.”
Pamela Abbott, Chief Executive of Norfolk Wildlife Trust said:
“It’s so good to see this research highlighting the very many ways in which children benefit from connecting with nature. It’s particularly heartening to see that the largest benefit from time outdoors was felt by children who hadn’t previously had much contact with nature. As well as improving children’s wellbeing, connecting children with nature increases their awareness of environmental issues. The research emphasises the importance Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s work with young people and in particular the work that we do with Sure Start Centres
around the county introducing children to the natural world at the very start of their lives and bringing them the joy and wonder of wildlife. It adds weight to The Wildlife Trusts’ call for daily time with nature to be included in the school curriculum.”
In Norfolk last year, 8,148 school children took part in education activities with Norfolk Wildlife Trust
in schools and on NWT nature reserves. The activities involved children learning about nature, such as identifying plants and trees, reflecting on their important role in our lives and considering the needs of wildlife habitats. All education work aims to inspire pupils about the natural world through hands-on experience and encourage a caring approach for Norfolk’s wildlife.
Lessons from nature
The UCL research team studied children participating in outdoor activities with their local Wildlife Trust, ranging from a single activity, to a series of activities over the course of several weeks. 451 children (mostly 8-9 years of age) in 12 areas across England took part by completing surveys before and after they participated in outdoor activities. Additionally, teachers, Wildlife Trust educators and 199 of the children were also observed by the UCL research team and interviewed about their experiences.
The nature connection of the children was also measured. Nature connection refers to the level at which a person considers nature to be a part of their identity, reflecting their emotional closeness to the natural world. Nature connection essentially includes a love of nature and care and concern for the environment.
Professor Michael Reiss, Institute of Education, UCL, said:
“Each generation seems to have less contact with the outdoors than the preceding one. We owe it to all young people to reverse this trend – for their sakes, for our sakes and for nature’s sake.”