Birdwatching is an activity for all ages and interest in ‘twitching’ is on the increase. The Forum for Life-Based Learning is in favour of schools teaching about birds and promoting birdwatching as a way of increasing children’s appreciation of nature and promoting mental wellbeing.
Twitchers, a name often used for keen birdwatchers, have long described its mental health benefits, so it is perhaps no surprise that a recent survey carried out for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), ahead of its Big Garden Watch, reported that two-thirds of the public had “found solace in watching birds and hearing their song” during lockdown. In December we highlighted the fact that taking an active interest in nature improves children’s mental health.
Meanwhile, just this week a Treasury review into the economics of biodiversity recommended reform of the school curriculum so that children learn about and develop an appreciation of nature and the natural world.
Anyone can get involved in birdwatching. It is easy to start, requires little or no money and is good for you. As this Guardian article about young birdwatchers shows, it can also capture the imagination: “More and more young people are feeling the thrill of fresh air, flashing wings and the sound of birdsong.”
You can birdwatch alone or in small friendship groups. It can be done as a family. And there is, of course, huge scope for schools to incorporate birdwatching into the curriculum — from learning about birds in science to art and photography activities, from school-wide birdwatch events to organised field trips and other outdoor work. The possibilities are endless.
The Forum for Life-Based Learning believes that we need to reform the school curriculum for young children to meet urgent life challenges. Two of our proposed nine curriculum themes are Animal Life and The Emotions, prioritising an appreciation of the natural world and mental wellbeing.
Find out more about the life-based learning Emotions theme
Find out more about the life-based learning Animal Life theme
The RSPB website is packed with resources for families and schools
Image at the head of this article by Rajesh Balouria from Pixabay.