The curriculum should reflect children’s interest in the environment and nature

A recent Forum for Life-Based Learning post stated that the forthcoming COP26 climate change conference of world leaders, to be held in Glasgow, presented an outstanding opportunity to press the reset button on nature education. The environment is an issue that children are passionate about. The Forum emphasises the importance of children learning about the environment and nature more generally as part of a fully rounded, life-based curriculum. In support of this, the Forum is building up its collection of website links to information and resources of use to teachers and parents.

A truly imaginative approach to COP26 will put education at the heart of its legacy planning, looking again at what we are teaching our children so that environmental education isn’t just another box-ticking bolt-on, achieved via a few science lessons and an awareness-raising days one or twice a year, but an integral part of the curriculum.

Using COP26 to press the environmental education reset button, 6 April 2021

There is a huge amount of evidence that children and young people care deeply about the environment and that nature has a positive effect on their mental health. A 2020 survey by Natural England of 1,501 children aged between 8 and 15 found that:

  • 83% agreed that being in nature made them very happy
  • 82% agreed that they would like to do more to protect the environment
  • 78% said that protecting the environment was important to them

However, too many children are currently switched off learning as they struggle to see its relevance. A life-based approach will improve children’s motivation to learn, respecting the subject content of the National Curriculum but delivering it through nine life themes that directly address the challenges we face.

We are currently in the process of refreshing the Links area of the Forum website. You will find separate pages for each of the nine life-based learning themes. Each page is split into two sections: a section linking to sites with teaching ideas and resources for immediate use in the classroom and in curriculum planning, and a section providing links to an eclectic mix of thought-provoking and information-rich websites relevant to life-based learning.

One link on the Plant Life Links page, for example, is to the excellent UK website Science and Plants for Schools (SAPS), which has a great library of free-to-use teaching resources as well as being packed with information, guidance and useful links of its own to support the teaching of plant science in schools.

Another of the links is to an article called Benefits of nature to kids on the US website Bright Horizons. In easy-to-understand language (it is written for parents rather than education professionals) the article sets out the benefits that outdoor play has on children’s intellectual, emotional, social and physical development. It includes a podcast that discusses the academic, cognitive and social and emotional benefits of outdoor play. It also links to other pages on the Bright Horizons website that suggest simple ideas for outdoors-based activities and projects to help stimulate children’s development.

We are always looking to expand the Links area of the website and welcome suggestions for additional links to high-quality websites. You can contact us here.

More About Plant Life

Image at the head of this article by Nikola Jovanovic on Unsplash

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