The benefits of spending time outdoors and its importance for children’s emotional and physical development are well documented. However, it is a sad fact that children are becoming increasingly detached from nature and this is especially true for children that grow up in a city. With less than half of children being able to correctly identify an oak tree and most preferring video games to playing in the countryside, how can we reconnect our children with the natural world?
Here are some practical and easy ways to rewild an urban childhood.
Explore your wild spaces
Pockets of nature can be found all over cities. Nearly half of Edinburgh is covered in green spaces and nearly a quarter of Greater London. Not all of these are parks; they may be allotments, city farms or canal towpaths. Get to know your local area and find these little patches of wildlife. Make it a family activity to explore each and every one that you can access.
Learn about your environment
Do you know what flowers grow in the cracks of the pavements in yoru town? Can you identify the bird songs that hear each morning? What urban animals nest in your rooftops or prowl in your alleyways?
Find out more about the wildlife of your local environment and make it a game to correctly identify each plant and animal that you come across on your walk to school.
The Wildlife Trust has some useful resources:
From soil to plate
Help children understand the connection between the earth and the food that they eat by spending time at local allotments or community gardens where they can see food being grown. By visiting a farmer’s market, they can see the different shapes and sizes of fruit and vegetables from the shiny marrow to the knobbly Jerusalem artichoke. You can discuss what foods are available seasonally and by allowing them to select locally grown produce to cook at home they may surprise you with how adventurous they can be!
The National Farmer’s Retail and Marketing Association has a handy map of all the farmer’s markets in the UK, so you can locate the one closest to you.
Create your own garden
Urban gardens can come in all shapes and sizes, from a pocket of grass to a single windowsill that catches the sun. Don’t be fooled by their small size; containers and window boxes can produce a vast array of bounty. Experiment with growing herbs, tomato plants or vegetables like courgettes and peppers which are happily grown in pots. The Royal Horticultural Society has plenty of advice for novice gardeners:
To get children excited about creating their own garden, why not subscribe to Mud and Bloom’s monthly garden and nature craft boxes. Each month will see a new box delivered to your door complete with everything you need for two seasonal activities: one gardening and one nature craft - along with instructions, quizzes and games aimed at teaching children about the seasons, plants, insects, birds, soil and rainfall.
To get your family gardening together, we have a fantastic offer for you. Subscribe to Mud and Bloom using the code PROFSCRUB at the checkout before 28 February 2018 and you will get an amazing 50% off your first box.
With no minimum subscription period, this really is a no-risk trial!
For full details, head to their website Mud and Bloom