Are kids losing touch with nature? Many are, according to a new study, which revealed children in the UK struggle to identify common wildlife and plants.
According to research by family activity app Hoop, less than half of children couldn’t identify a stinging nettle, while a quarter didn’t know what a conker was.
For the study, which questioned 1,000 kids aged 5-16 years and 1,000 adults, children were shown a range of natural items and asked to identify them. Topping the list of items many failed to recognise were a beech leaf (97%) and cabbage white butterfly (96%). Bumblebees (83%), kingfishers (65%), puffins (49%) and robins (23%) also appeared on the list of items children were clueless about.
The fact that nearly half of children didn’t know what a puffin looked like is particularly surprising. For two reasons: they are super cute and feature on the spine of many children’s books!
Not recognising certain types of leaf is one thing, but not knowing what a robin or conker looks like? That’s a real shame. The study also looked into the reasons why.
More than a quarter of parents said that their child had little or no interest in the great outdoors. 44% of parents questioned said that their child spends less time outside in nature than they did as a child.
Screens were also identified as a contributing factor by a third of parents. The instant gratification of a screen appeals more to many children than the peaceful, low-key charm of the natural world.
According to the research, UK children spend 1.88 hours on their smartphones, 1.82 hours watching TV, and 1.68 hours gaming. Compared to these indoor, screen-based activities, kids spend just 1.36 hours a day enjoying nature.
Spending time outdoors is good for everyone. Not only does it boost confidence and creativity from a young age, it helps kids understand the world around them. Tending plants can help your little ones learn about responsibility, and all that fresh air and running about does wonders for their health and fitness.
Speaking about the findings, Andy Beer, the National Trust’s regional director for the Midlands said: “We all need to do more and encourage children to experience nature and to have fun outdoors; as then they will start to care about it and want to spend time outside.”
At Little Willows, we encourage children to explore nature and get their hands dirty as much as possible. Over the coming months the Bath nursery is undergoing a major garden revamp. As part of this we will be incorporating dedicated nature areas and mud kitchens for the children to extend their exploration of natural resources. The garden will be more weather appropriate so it can be used all year round, giving the children extended outdoor learning opportunities.
If you’d like to find out more about what the Little Willows nurseries can offer your child both indoors and out, get in touch with our friendly team today.