Raising a Generation Who Are Connected to Nature

Image by    Annie Spratt

Image by Annie Spratt

As adults it is our generation who have a huge – and unenviable - job on our hands. We need to be the ones who are making unprecedented changes to the way that we live and the way we consume. For a sustainable future we need to make it so that our children cannot remember a time when we had six plastic toiletry bottles around the side of the bath or discover that humans have destroyed the planet to the point that words like badger are taken out of the junior dictionary.

The importance of convenience has trumped everything else for so long that we are finding it hard to change our ways. I’m one of the ‘we’. I have times when I really want to buy a roll of cling film because I think it’s faster and easier than the alternative of putting leftovers in a long-term reusable container or wax wrap. I’m not sure either is true - though our generation has been brought up to believe that it is.

Never has there been more people creating and providing ways for us to make better choices. There are no-plastic websites, zero waste shops, plastic alternatives for almost everything we use, forest schools, outdoor education coming into schools and a trend to buy less stuff and be more mindful of what we are consuming as we move though life. I find it very inspiring.

I believe that connecting children to nature lies at the heart of helping them make better choices.  And I believe they will have a much deeper connection if it’s one that comes from lots of family time outside.

 

“No one will protect what they don't care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced” David Attenborough

 

If our children love being outside, walking though bluebells woods, spotting wildlife, digging in mud, pond dipping, climbing trees, making wreaths with willow and spending time outside I believe it will be so much easier for them to make choices based on what is best not what’s fastest.

I understand fully that not all convenience is bad; I have some things in my life that I find very useful and believe they have more of a positive impact than negative. For example I get a meat box once a month so that I know where all the meat has come from – saving me the visit to a butcher - and I buy biodegradable wipes online.

And part of my business also offers convenience. After 18 months of running forest school stay-and-play sessions for pre-school children I wanted to find other ways to get parents outside with their children. I know it can be really hard to find, prep and then deliver new activities when you have little spare time. So I have created a season activity box for children aged 2-6 years old and for their parents or guardians that provide a range of activities which allow the children to develop their skills, interests and understanding though practical, hands on experiences in the natural world.

I hope that the activities encourage conversations, a sense of achievement, belonging and greater understanding of one another as well as giving the adult an insight into their child’s way of thinking.  

Training to be a forest school leader and spending an increasing amount of time outside (I have a dog and a family holiday home on Anglesey so I was already quite outdoorsy) has changed my life. I have a different perspective on things, I’m calmer, more mindful and notice the simple pleasure of life more easily now.  If I can pass that on though forest school sessions or seasonal boxes then happy days.

Some of my favourite things to do outside as a family:

·       a simple dog walk, no plan, no phone

·       jumping in puddles on wet days

·       chasing each other’s shadows on sunny days

·       filling small match boxes with treasures and then seeing who fitted in the most when were back home

·       a flask of hot chocolate and treat on a cold walk

·       searching for a seasonal flower

·       acting out a book such as The Three Little Pigs or Going on a Bear Hunt

·       looking for tracks and making up stories around them

 

What’s your favourite thing to do outside with your family?


Ellie Kelly runs Wonderwood Explorers in Farnham. Check out Ellie’s seasonal activity boxes here.

LifestyleContributor