...no, it’s not drinking whisky in the woods, but nice guess. It’s actually something much more important for us outdoor types. Before we get to understanding exactly what a Nature Tot is, let’s try to understand why we so desperately need them.
A recent YouGov poll commissioned by the Wildlife Trust unearthed some statistics that should give all parents some pause for thought. Despite 91% of parents stating that access to nature is important for children, 78% were concerned their children weren’t spending enough time out in wild places. In fact, a somewhat startling 27% of children aged 8-15 have never played outside by themselves beyond the confines of the domestic garden. If we want happier, healthier and more environmentally aware children this is not the best news. Luckily for us the Wildlife Trust is not taking these findings lying down and are leading the charge to radicalise our rascals with nature based nurture.
The Wildlife Trust has long understood the need to ‘get them early’ where kids and nature are concerned and have a very comprehensive offering for our aspiring Attenboroughs. The first step on the ladder is a Nature Tots groups which are aimed at the under 5’s. In simple terms, these are playgroups based out in nature, focusing on learning through activities including exploring, crafting, games and team work. The sessions are generally all weather outdoor affairs so wellies and splash suits are essential.
Once your intrepid toddler has mastered mud spreading upon reaching the age of 5 they graduate and can become a member of their local Wildlife Watch group. With activities and events aimed at children up to their early teens the ‘syllabus’ becomes more nature and environment focused. Sessions range from badger or bat watching through to gardening and composting. There are even ways to get involved with wildlife campaigns and activism. If you’re looking to get them away from that games console and think this is for you checkout out the Wildlife Trust’s interactive map. Here you’ll find full details of Nature Tots and Wildlife Watch groups in your area.
As well as groups and activities the Wildlife Trust provides further resources for those who really take to nature and wildlife. For a small annual fee kids can become a Wildlife Watch Member for which they’ll receive a ‘goodie pack’, the Wildlife Watch Handbook, and become eligible for the Wildlife Watch Awards Scheme. This will enable them to continue with outdoor fun and learning every time they head outdoors.
We stand at a moment in time where the health of our children and the health of our environment are threatened like they have never been before. Wouldn’t it be a strange coincidence if the solution to both problems were as simple as getting the next generation to play outdoors? Well, here’s hoping...