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New Article: Nature Deficit Disorder


Helen
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I'd like to recommend a newly pubished article by one of our FSF members, on Nature Deficit Disorder. Helen has summarised for us some highly interesting reports on children's lack of engagement with nature and the outdoors. I know she'll be along shortly, inviting you to join in a discussion and complete a survey. :1b

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Hi everyone.

 

Have you heard of Nature Deficit Disorder? It was on Countryfile this week and in the newpapers over Easter. If reconnecting children to nature interests you, then please join in the research into 'What can the early years’ sector do to help'.

Please click on the research questionnaire below, read the article and post a comment.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ZC3MPMK (You may need to copy and paste)

What can be done to stem the flow of children playing indoors rather than outdoor?

What will help parents to see the benefits of children roaming free in nature?

Do you have some woodland or green space locally to your nursery that you could visit?

What do you think can help?

These are just some of the questions puzzling me.

What are your thoughts?

Helen

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I've done it, I didnt tick an option in the last question because I dont think any of that's really our problem, more the space available isnt suitable, although if you can edit it, I'd say staff could benefit from some information.

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Great article...thanks. I am in the very lucky position to be able to offer free flow to the children all day every day. We have a large garden that backs on to open field and to a river. The view is fantastic and we have erected 'see through' fences so that we can see some distance and life beyond the garden limits. The change in our practise is huge and the outdoors is 'planned ' for as much as the indoors. We have taken the decision to have very few fixed items (currently a house/planters and that's it) everything else is loose! This means that we have the ability to change and adapt for the cohort we have. We have few ride on toys and the ones we have are chosen to develop certain strengths. I am very proud to say that all of our children can recognise and name a range of minibeasts and identify the bird species that visit our garden, they have even trained our robin to come when they call...if they get it right! none of these things are part of the 'curriculum' and I often feel that children who have a wide general knowledge are not appreciated in a school setting for their talents because it doesn't fit in to a category but I do feel that these things are important and often parents do not have the time to pass these wonders on...

I do think we need to promote what children are learning in the outdoors...parents seem to equate sitting at tables with a pencil in your hand to learning but i think we also have a responsibility to plan for the outdoors to ensure learning is going on and its not just a case of 'letting of steam' or exercise (or gaining the first turn on the ride ons!!) when we visit our forest site i produce a 'what have we learnt today' info sheet which often hits home. anyway as you can tell i'm a bit passionate about this subject, so survey done!

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We too are lucky to have our own outdoor space and access to a large school field which we visit daily (We use it far more than school!) Our problem is mainly from parents.

 

After the recent rain we found an enormous puddle on the field and visited it daily for a week or so. Then it came to our attention that parents were muttering about the wet clothes and making negative comments to their children along the lines of "Oh, you've not been in that puddle AGAIN" and "Try not to get wet"

 

To be honest, as staff, we're feeling a little down about it as the children have ALL loved it, been engaged, curious and alive, and we can see how much learning right across the development matters has taken place.

 

We've done a big display with photos and examples of learning and sent home a letter saying why we do it but it's a problem we have whenever we get messy even though we stress to new parents that we do messy activities and go out daily whatever the weather and they should 'Dress For Mess' and send spares.

 

We feel like we're banging our heads against a brick wall, but we're not going to stop, we're going to keep doing it anyway because we can see the value even if parents can't and at least if we are making sure that these childen are getting access to outdoors it goes a little way towards balancing out those that spend their afternoons on XBoxes (Yes, I know of at least one with an XBox and several with DSs) :rolleyes:

Edited by Guest
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A big thank you for all who have complete the research questionnaire.

 

Rea you mentioned space was unsuitable. Do you have any woodland or green space locally that you could walk to or take the bus? I support a few setting that have taken this option because they don't have suitable grounds.

Finleysmaid - how often do your children visit forest school and do your parents go too? Also can your parent access this area at the weekends and holidays?

I know of a setting that run afterschool clubs and holiday clubs from their forest school area and then invite the parents to camp for the night.

Swiftlymorgan - do your parents sometimes come and observe all of the wonderful learning that is happening when the children get muddy?

 

Did anyone watch the you tube clips at the end of the article? I liked them because they give me ideas and inspried me to do more.

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completed the questionairre, we do not have free flow access to outdoors due to layout of building but are in the process of doing so. The outside aarea needs some improving, since I have been there we have had several outings something that was not done for many years!

We are fortunate to be semi rural and have masses of wide open space, fields, woods,park etc on the doorstep unfortunately we dont always have the ratio to go out and about as much as I would like.

When I was a child I lived in a town but we had plenty of green places and took many risks , the local park had boating lake , paddling pool, trees, and the best asset was the summer playscheme , as children as young as 4 we would go over to playscheme in a hut in the park, council play leaders would sign you in and we paid a small sub , we could paint , play table tennis , outdoor team games and a trip to Epping Forest and play on the play equipment in park , we were all ages from 4 up to 16/17. Theses are memories I will never forget , there were no real rules or red tape - it was really just a base. My brothers and sisters took me , we had packed lunches and spent our days there all summer. Our parents worked while we had fun , fresh air and friends

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Ours is not forest school but a forest experience as we are only able to experience it once a term and parents have the option to attend about 25% of them do. There is limited access for parents at other times (as it forms part of the royal estate!!)

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A big thank you for all who have complete the research questionnaire.

 

Rea you mentioned space was unsuitable. Do you have any woodland or green space locally that you could walk to or take the bus? I support a few setting that have taken this option because they don't have suitable grounds.

 

Unfortunately there is nowhere like that, my lads grew up visiting the woods and lakes, I wish we had somewhere nearby that offered even a fraction of the opportunities. We're having a garden built for us over the coming weeks but its a tad sterile and staff have mentioned having a cover so they can do book work sheltered from the rain!

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This is a subject that interests me greatly, I've recently completed a literature review - 'What impact does the nature environment have on young children's holistic development?', so very interesting to read Helen's article - thank you. Questionnaire duly completed.

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Unfortunately there is nowhere like that, my lads grew up visiting the woods and lakes, I wish we had somewhere nearby that offered even a fraction of the opportunities. We're having a garden built for us over the coming weeks but its a tad sterile and staff have mentioned having a cover so they can do book work sheltered from the rain!

 

Aah Rea i can see a struggle on your hands...perhaps they need reminding that ofsted only require sun shelter !!! ;)xD and if you want to see what can be done with a 'sterile' area have a look at 'creative star learning' there was a blog on there a few days ago about a school ...fantastic :1b good luck with the garden How exciting!!

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Swiftlymorgan - do your parents sometimes come and observe all of the wonderful learning that is happening when the children get muddy?

 

 

Not in person, but we did put on a slide show of photos for everyone to see while they were waiting to collect their children, and we put photos on both the letter and the wall display with labels with some of the learning.

water poster.docx

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Love the poster. Thanks swiftlymorgan :rolleyes:

Finleysmaid - you mentioned that you go to the forest once a term, is it possible to go more often? The research mentions the importance of regular trips so that the children build a connection, feel an ownership to their special area.

 

Lashes2508 - I love your description about where and what you did as a child, lovely lasting memories. You mentioned ratios, when you go to the woods what ratios are the chidlren to adults and what are the risks. This may be an issue for many settings and it would be good to explore ways to address it.

 

Does anyone go out with the same ratios as inside? e.g. with walking ropes etc

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unfortunately helen we cannot go more often as the borough only has access for about 27 days a year (and that's to share between the whole borough!) we do however take regular excursions into the surrounding area ...we would love to do proper forest school but at present have been unable to find a suitable location (we cannot use the little pockets around us due to a rather larger than average vagrant population who uses it for their loo!!! :blink: though we have been having discussion with a couple of other settings to see if we can find somewhere that we could share. (we would also need to consider further qualifications as we are not level 3 forest trained) we do feel however that because of the way our garden is set up it is as near to being as natural as possible.

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Sorry to hear about the woodland loo :( but great if you can join up with other setings to find a suitable location. From research the main emphasis is getting children out into nature, preferably woodland as this supports creativity/problem solving and risk taking. Then later, if you wish, to do forest school training.

When you go out, what ratio of children to adults do you have or is the same as when you are at your setting? i am genuinely interested as this may be an issue for other setting.

Thank you for your comments, :1b they build up a better picture of issues around taking children out and about.

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if we are in the near vacinity to the pre-school we usually have the same ratios(unless there are sen or other children who may need additional supervision) in the forest we always have an additional member of staff (so that works out about 1:3 but it depends on the cohort of children! and their experience)

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Helen, thank you a great article. I like the quote about more risk to health sitting on couch than falling out of a tree! I am doing a presentation to my parents next week about outdoor play, so this article is so relevant. It is also an inspiration to make more use of the areas available to us.

 

I am incredibly lucky to have a really lovely outdoor play area. It is not woodland, but I am creating an allotment and a sensory area in one part. We have planted spuds, strawberries and peas in recent weeks and the children have really taken on the care, wanting to water them and now worrying because the water is remaining visible. They have asked how can we stop the animals from eating the strawberries? Notice they did not ask the same question about the peas!

 

The other side is safe play surface great for the bikes. But I would like some ideas for activities that are not fixed features. I have recently acquired tyres which the children love and have used them for jumping in and out of, balancing on, adding to the hollow block system to create their own climbing apparatus. They have pretended to be on theme park rides on them. Open ended play in practice! So more ideas of equipment along this would be great, and how children can self select. I know it not quite the same as a walk in the woods. But if you have read the article and it is of interest you may be the people to ask for further inspiration.

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Finleysmaid I'd love to do my Forest School's leadership training, and would need a setting to 'practice' on... :P

anytime you like! (i'm trying to persuade on of our mums to do it so that she can sell her skills ...she is a geography teacher who used to lead exploration trips across the globe!!)

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LKeyteach - I have always found an A frame the most versitile piece of equipment after tyres, logs, crates, guttering, blocks, planks, plus buckets of fir cones, pebbles, gravel, sticks,
http://www.ascoeducational.co.uk/search.php?xSearch=climbing+frame
It can be a den, fire-engine, the children can hang upside down (there has been some research that states that this is good for children)


Hope that helps
Have you been able to complete the questionnaire on Nature Deficit Disorder?
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ZC3MPMK

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