Children learn from growing things. People of all ages can enjoy gardening, growing and nature, but children will have lots of fun and gain special benefits. Gardening is educational and develops new skills including:
- Responsibility – from caring for plants
- Understanding – as they learn about cause and effect (for example, plants die without water, weeds compete with plants)
- Self-confidence – from achieving their goals and enjoying the food they have grown
- Love of nature – a chance to learn about the outdoor environment in a safe and pleasant place
- Reasoning and discovery – learning about the science of plants, animals, weather, the environment, nutrition, and simple construction
- Physical activity – doing something fun and productive
- Cooperation – including shared play activity and teamwork
- Creativity – finding new and exciting ways to grow food
- Nutrition – learning about where fresh food comes from.
Frightening research as part of survey by Unilever reveals that ¾’s of children spend less time, on average, outdoors than prisoners! The survey questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 parents of 5-12 year olds and found 74% of children spent less than 60 minutes playing outside each day. UN guidelines for prisoners require “at least one hour of suitable exercise in the open air daily”.
Parents in the UK are almost twice as likely as the global average to admit that their children spend less than half an hour playing outside per day, while almost one in five said their offspring do not go out at all for recreation on a typical day. British parents also estimated that their children spend 26 per cent, on average, of their free time inside in front of a screen.
We need to help re-address this balance and get our children off computers, ipads, and phones and get them outdoors, interacting with nature and out in the garden growing, discovering, and exploring.
And when they are indoors, off their computers and screens and doing something fun and creative.
Interestingly, the highest sited reason for UK children not getting outdoors was the weather. Let’s face it we don’t always have great weather in the UK, it can be cold, windy and rainy but on most days it is possible to put on a coat, wellies, hat and gloves and still get outdoors, at least for a little while!