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‘Wild’ Homework – A Young Nature Lover’s Chance to Connect with Nature

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Posted: Thursday 22nd June 2017 by WildBlog

By Zoe Banks Gross

For the school half term at the end of May, I was worried my six-year-old son would have homework. He did, but instead of maths or writing, it was to try doing some ‘wild’ activities. We decided to try to do a wild activity every day. Some of our activities have been bigger adventures, but some of them have been finding the ‘wild’ in the everyday, normal activities we do.

We had more time to explore the outdoors during the holiday. Long walks in the Quantocks, spending a night camping in the Forest of Dean, picnicking in the woods and splashing around in a stream were some of his favourite adventures. We even put together a wild diary to show his class. Even though we are lucky enough to have a car and can access the countryside fairly easily, we don’t get out of the city that often, so once we were back to the regular routine of school and work, I found myself coming up with ways to interact with nature close by. This meant more digging around our postage stamp inner city garden, spending more time on the school run looking closely at front gardens (and weeds!) or looking at the playground differently- like a place to collect leaves, nuts or seeds.

Some days I was looking after one or two other children, and at first I wasn’t sure how the other children would feel about getting a bit more ‘wild.’ But they loved it – both girls and boys really got stuck into finding different coloured flowers on our walk home from the playground, or having a race to gather fallen leaves. I’ve also seen my boy and his friends become less squeamish about touching bugs, snails and other residents of the outdoors—to the extent that I have had to put a stop on bringing the outdoors inside our house. I have enough trouble with snails in the garden as it is, but I like how excited my little boy is when he bonds with these creatures. Collecting plants and creatures, or just photographing them has led to us trying to identify them with the help of the internet. It’s been great seeing the spark of curiosity light up in him, wanting to find out more about his world.

Now, some days, instead of wanting to turn on the tv when he comes home from school, he wants to check on the garden. As a parent who wants to limit screen time, but also finds it useful when trying to make dinner or get stuff done, my son’s self-determined interest in the outdoors means that I have one less battle. Children are under pressure to perform in school these days and the little bits of time for outdoor learning seem few and far between. It seems to be that if there were more ‘wild’ activities in school, we might get the kids enjoying learning more.

You can find out about the work Avon Wildlife Trust does with children and young people at http://www.avonwildlifetrust.org.uk/learning
 

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