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Nature Calling

Do you know the difference between a pine cone and a hazelnut? Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson fears our children have lost touch with nature

In a recent interview with The Times, celebrated children’s author Julia Donaldson warned that we are raising a generation of children with no real experience of landscapes and nature. She argues that ‘Children seem very disconnected from the natural world’ due to there being no time to study it on the school curriculum and less freedom at home to go out and explore.

But we’re not just talking about little Johnny’s woeful inability to identify several species of plant. More a concern is how young people are missing out on a whole treasure trove of benefits reaped from spending time in the great outdoors. Studies regularly show that free play in the natural world has a huge impact on the health and wellbeing of children, producing significant improvements in self-esteem and creativity, as well as providing a psychological and emotional boost.

Unstructured outdoor play improves problem-solving skills, focus and self-discipline. Socially, it improves cooperation, flexibility and self-awareness. Emotional benefits include reduced aggression and increased overall happiness. Are you reaching for your coat, yet?

Julia is teaming up with Yorkshire Tea and the Woodland Trust  to help plant 500,000 trees in the UK over the next five years to help create wild spaces for children to enjoy and to help combat ‘nature deficit disorder’. They’re calling it Yorkshire Tree – see what they did there? And of course, the Gruffalo will be along to help.

So if you think your littlies need to step away from the screen and take a walk on the wild side, get out there and get stuck in with them. Build a den, go on a bug hunt or simply go for a walk in the woods, collecting sticks, puddle-splashing and making daisy chains just because. And if you need any more inspiration, take a look at The Blog and head on over to Busy Bird, where we’ve bugged out on creepy crawly kit to fuel their curiosity.



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Have our kids lost touch with nature? Gruffalo-creator Julia Donaldson thinks so