4 Reasons to connect with the outdoors
Whilst much of the purpose of our primary school trips are for children to take part in activities with their peers, let off some steam, learn valuable skills through play and develop personally.
Another core part of the trips is to ensure children get to spend some quality time outdoors. Our experience has shown us how valuable this time is for pupils and the how important spending time outdoors is. Yet, we seem to read all too frequently on the news about the overall lack of time children spend outdoors today, whereby they are unintentionally deprived of the many benefits of being outdoors.
Are these headlines alarming or just a change in society? Both. They do represent a change in society, whereby technology plays an integral role. Technology allows for many more activities and stimulation to take place indoors, reducing the attraction and desire to explore outdoors. Years ago, there simply wasn’t as many options to play indoors, making the outdoors the much preferred option whereby one had to be more creative. In addition, it is not just children, it is also adults who are spending much less time outdoors too; for similar reasons. Nonetheless, whilst this is undoubtedly a change in the whole of the Western society, where no-one is to blame but evolution, it is also very alarming. Just because society has changed in this way, does not mean that spending time outdoors doesn’t or shouldn’t hold great importance. It still is important and perhaps event more so as maybe the benefits of it have greater relation to today’s society.
4 REASONS TO CONNECT WITH THE OUTDOORS...
Stress is something that is typically associated with adult-life, however there have been increasing reports on children suffering from stress and mental health issues. Therefore, the benefits of stress reduction as a result of being outside are applicable to both children and adults alike, which has been widely documented and studied. Many studies have indicated that people’s cortisol levels and heart rate decrease when exposed to natural landscapes, which is of course related to the chemical reaction of stress.
If young people do not spend time outdoors, where is their interest in the natural environment going to come in? Which is ultimately required if we want the natural world to be preserved, where the minefield topic of sustainability comes in. It would be unlikely that young children will start to appreciate the wonder of the natural landscapes and go on a crusade to protect them at a young age. But, if they are exposed they will appreciate it much more. Meaning that at a later age when they have a deeper understanding they will be able to care and protect the world, where ultimately sustainability is going to play a larger role.
Several studies have been conducted on the impact of nature on creativity. However, one of the core studies is one that measured a group of hikers. The hikers were immersed in nature for four days. Upon return their performance on a creative problem solving test increased by 50%. 50% is hugely significant and could be related to other factors, however nature is undoubtedly a large contributor. Why is this the case? Researcher, David Strayer believes that nature restores depleted attention circuits which enables us to be more open to creativity and problem solving. Therefore, if you want to evoke more creativity, spend more time outdoors!
Gaining and maintaining sufficient vitamins in our diet is vital to our overall well-being both physically and emotionally. Thus, an important vitamin that we gain from being outside with natural sunlight (albeit limited in the UK) is vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for the development of bones and teeth, fighting some diseases it also helps release endorphins which are of course ‘happy hormones’ and is linked to the point in reducing stress. This makes the benefits of vitamin D to great to ignore and leaves no excuse to make sure the whole family gets their quota. Some say you only need ten minutes of sunlight a day to gain a sufficient amount!
Time to get going!
On all our primary school trips, children will reap the benefits of being outdoors and learning through play at all of our centres across the UK. Perhaps if you know your child’s school has a particular interest in this, our Eden Project Centre has the biggest focus on not only being outside, but learning about nature and the environment too, naturally.
However, as for spending more time at home? There is no excuse. Well, actually there are millions of excuses we know. In today’s busy world and time, the most precious commodity there are always excuses not to explore outdoors. Yet, instead of making excuses not to go outdoors, try to make excuses to go outdoors…the ones above will be a pretty good start!