The outdoors is a hugely exciting adventure for kids. Along with unlimited possibilities that it offers for play, kids can also learn by exploring, discovering, inventing and problem solving. Whether they are climbing a tree, jumping in puddles or looking into rock pools on a beach, they’re learning every time that they’re outdoors. Interaction with nature is crucial to a child’s development, and is therefore close to our hearts at DiG (Dirt is Good).
Our love for nature is why we carried out extensive research with mums and children across the world to explore the relationship between kids and the environment. Our study interviewed 2,000+ mothers and their 8-12 year old children in 11 countries to observe their views on nature and its positive influence on a child’s development. The outcomes of this study were published in the report.
Children and Nature
The research findings clearly show that mums realise the positive benefits of outdoor play. As parents, we want to see that our kids are being stimulated and are entertained through the discovery and creativity that comes with experiential play, and not just spending their time on video games or TV.
In reality, however, more children regularly watch TV or films, play video games or are on the internet than are outdoors playing in their yards or parks. In a perfect world, we would like our kids to have the type of childhoods that we had, we face obstacles that can prevent this.
Mums have fears that their children may not be safe or may hurt themselves when they play outdoors. Parents would prefer to have their kids at home, under their watchful eyes – especially if there’s only limited time to spend with them, or if outdoor play facilities in the local neighbourhood are too far away.
Setting aside parental fears for a moment, what do our kids think? Would they rather play indoors if they had a choice? Do they feel the same way as their mums do? It doesn’t seem so. Overwhelmingly, 58% of mothers think that their children would rather play indoors, but 63% of kids would rather play outside. Another unexpected conclusion from the research was the support for protecting nature and becoming more aware of environmental problems from both mums and kids.
Children really want their parents to be more involved with nature and take more care to help protect the planet. This is great news, and it is highly encouraging to see that there is a new generation who take nature and the environment so seriously. It is unfortunate that these kids don’t spend enough time enjoying it for themselves!
Dr Dorothy Singer of Yale University, a lead thinker in child development, comments: “Although it is concerning that children across the world are not getting the opportunity to experience nature first hand… there is a real need for parents and children to have the chance to interact with nature and to learn through experience.
Working with experiential play and child development experts, DiG has developed a bank of indoor and outdoor activities for your kids to learn from and have fun with.”