The great indoors

AS a kid I didn’t plant trees so much as climb them, and my favourite reading spot was the top of a massive pine in our garden, when I wasn’t playing in bushland just up the road.

Sadly, a recent report by Planet Ark reveals that kids are losing touch with nature and only one in 10 children play outside more than inside.

“Toddlers are using digital devices, parents are working long hours and heightened fears of child safety and pressure to engage in extracurricular activities all limit the amount of time children spend in nature,” states the report.

The Planet Ark study examined how prepared the next generation will be to tackle the “major” issues, including global warming, access to clean water and population increase.

Planet Ark asked 200 Australian teachers to rank the skills needed to address the problems of the future, and only four per cent reckoned science had the answers, while 60 per cent said critical thinking and problem solving, and grit and emotional intelligence were needed.

• Adrianna and David Dalgarno are getting behind National Tree Day. Photo by Jenny D’anger

All skills that can be developed by learning outdoors, “both during and outside school hours” the report concluded.

Students who have outdoor learning perform well academically, and learn problem solving, emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills and resilience,” Outdoor Connections director Amanda Lloyd says.

Outdoor learning was added to the Australian curriculum in 2015, but hasn’t been taken up widely, with the majority of learning in the classroom, she says.

While in Finland, which is rated as having the best primary school system in the world, kids have to spend 15 minutes every hour outdoors, whatever the weather.

“All it takes is to think outside the box, no walls needed,” Dr Lloyd says.

National Tree Day activities aren’t limited to the actual day (July 30), with Richmond Primary School holding a planting on Friday July 28.

Cockburn Wetlands Education’s holding a volunteer planting at Bibra Lake on Sunday July 24, while Melville council wants volunteers to join a planting day at Jeff Joseph Reserve, Applecross on July 30.


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