​The Positive Effects of Nature on Children.

​The Positive Effects of Nature on Children.

Posted by Kate Reeves on 18th Apr 2023

Our Spotty Otter Snowdonia National Park family Ambassadors can always be found outside enjoying the beautiful world around them. Give them a follow here. Kate has shared this blog with us all about the positive effects of Nature for your kids. 

“The natural world is the greatest source of excitement.”

Sir David Attenborough certainly knows what he’s talking about! I have been lucky in my life to have been provided with many outdoor opportunities. As a child I was taught to sail in various places in the UK and we were regularly packed into the car for a Sunday walk in the Welsh hills. Holidays were all in Cornwall and there were many beaches and boats involved there. It was very rare to hear a complaint about going and I look back on my childhood with happy memories of amazing experiences in nature.

As an adult, I have travelled the world teaching sailing and skiing and am happiest in the sunshine on a boat or up a mountain!

As a parent, I have tried to encourage my children to love our world by immersing them in nature. They are happiest outside rolling in mud, sand, or snow, jumping in puddles in the rain, sailing, swimming, or paddle-boarding on a lake or in the sea, or climbing big Welsh mountains.

The effect of nature on children is simply awesome! Have you ever had a day where the children are bickering, nothing seems to be going right for them, nothing interests them, and the screen time is mounting up? You know you want to go outside. You know they need to go outside. But is the hassle or the crying over getting ready worth the effort? It most certainly is!

During lockdown I truly realised the importance of having access to nature. We were lucky to live in a remote hamlet with farms for neighbours and access to miles of unpopulated land. We enjoyed the wonders of lambing and hatching chicks; we studied flowers we don’t usually have time to stop and look at at in depth. We used the natural ingredients around us to make new and interesting foods. We worked as a family in the garden. We thrived.

“Access to nature and green space provides children with a myriad of…benefits such as increased ability to concentrate, improved academic performance, and reduced stress and aggression levels.” Fabre, Taylor and Kuo, 2006.

Sometimes it’s a lot of effort to get the whole family ready for a day in nature. If the weather is uncertain, you need everything. You need food, snacks, drinks, treats and more snacks! The children need to be dressed appropriately but it’s too much for them and the tears and crying almost becomes too much for everyone. But don’t give up. Help is at hand.

Louv says, “Nature creates a unique sense of wonder for kids that no other environment can provide.”

Get them out of the door. Even if it’s into the garden. Give them something to dig with, a magnifying glass, a bucket of water, and very soon life will be easier and peaceful again.

My girls can argue and bicker. Put them on a beach or on a footpath to anywhere, in a field, or in the garden, and the shouting miraculously stops. The smiles return. And very soon you’ll hear singing. And questions. Oh the questions! They are in another world. A world where there is no pressure to talk to anyone, engage with anyone. A world where they can feel with every part of their body the magic of nature around them. The birdsong. The sound of waves on the shore. The sand in their toes. The smell of summer grass. The sound of rain on their hood. The wind through the mountains. The stillness of a snowy day. They are connected to another world. A world we, as adults, often forget about and a world we often loose interest in as we go about the daily rush. A world we need. A world of nature.

“Connectedness to nature encourages children to display more sustainable behaviours, which in turn gives them greater levels of happiness.” Dr Laura Berrera-Hernández.

As a Squirrel Scout Leader in Eryri, I try to arrange our program to include as many outdoor sessions as possible. Over the last 14 months, the 30 or so Squirrels we have guided through the beginning of their Scouting journey have enjoyed walks by the river, exploring the forest, working with, and visiting our local Mountain Rescue, games on the field, seed bombing, growing cress and flowers, building outdoor dens in the woods, visiting local farms to see milking and lambing, and many other nature-based activities. At the beginning, some of the Squirrels were hesitant and unsure of nature and what was expected of them. Could they get muddy? Could they be noisy? Could they be quiet? Could they stop and look closer? Lockdown certainly had a lot to answer for! Even in a mostly rural community, children had lost their natural connection with nature. Thankfully, all the Squirrels now understand exactly what is expected of them when immersed in nature: simply to be themselves and discover nature in their own way.

Hopefully through my parenting and my work in Scouts, the young people will “feel that the natural world is important and valuable and beautiful and wonderful and an amazement and a pleasure.” (Sir David Attenborough).