Children and nature are a match. We are quite an outdoors family, and firm believers in the phrase, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”.
It is only by the children being outside in nature and experiencing it, that they will grow up respecting it and wanting to look after it. There is much research into the benefits of children being outdoors and experiencing nature, and yet our culture in the UK, both schooling and home, is leading to more and more indoors time. Being outside supports their development in a whole host of ways; emotionally, intellectually, socially, as well as the well known health and physical benefits. They grow in creativity and problem solving ability through outdoor play, and co-operation with each other is even increased. It reduces stress and induces a calmness, which in turn leads to healthier bodies and minds. Free play and unstructured time outdoors is vitally important too and it promotes curiosity and exploration. I love sitting on the sidelines not guiding them or butting in with my grown up “be careful” and “mind out” phrases, and seeing what they decide to get up to. Children don’t need to be timetabled or scheduled (something our culture is guilty of overdoing) they learn, play, and develop a lot more effectively when left to their own devices (within reason!!). Self esteem and well being improve. They learn risk management and learn to take risks too, which helps in life as life is unpredictable, and they are better equipped to handle unpredictable situations. Childhood needs to be simple. They need to be able to run, climb, and experience the happiness that comes with the freedom to explore. Nature also needs our children to take an interest. They need to learn all about the environment they are living and growing up in, but through a hands on lifestyle, not just through their books or great TV programmes. They need to take an interest so they are aware of the impact us humans have on it, and then think how we can look after it better.
The way the Swedish treat nature and value nature, and have the outdoors and nature as such a high priority, is one the the main driving forces behind our move here. They are of the firm belief that we should all be out in it, whatever the weather, and whatever the age. Young babies are placed outside to sleep in the fresh air (we had a few funny remarks with our daughter in the garden in the cold February weather napping all cosily in her buggy, but here it is the norm), the children are outside playing in all weathers at school or förskola. So here we are among like minded people, and we know that our children won’t be cooped up while they are getting their education – in fact, Swedes believe the great outdoors is a big part of the children’s education. Now just to get into that education system…..!!!!