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Back to Nature


Last week’s essential TV viewing was ITV’s Planet Child. The programme, which had viewers on the edge of their seats, ran an experiment to send a group of four to
seven year olds across London, without their parents, using just a map and public transport.

There is no doubt that the episode was anxious viewing at times, but what it did show was that children are often much more independent than we anticipate; each group that participated completed the three mile journey from a central London park to the London Eye. In other countries, such as Japan, children are regularly expected to travel across cities by themselves to get to school.

Whilst I am not advocating that we should all leave children to cross busy cities alone (there were hidden chaperones following the children at
all times), it is interesting that we often underestimate their self-reliance. In fact, a recent piece of research showed that children are spending less time outside than prison inmates.

At Kent College Prep School, being outdoors is an essential part of the curriculum and we have one of the biggest Forest Schools in the local area. Girls regularly learn and play outside in our 82 acres of woodland. Girls have the opportunity to explore the woods, overcome the challenges of our outdoor adventure course (even swinging on tyres over a lake) and build dens from items found on the woodland floor. They cook over campfires, climb trees and learn survival skills.

With so much of children’s lives being devoted to screen time, a connection with the natural world is increasingly important. Technology brings its benefits, but play in the outdoors is where they will learn to cope with risks and challenges. Outdoors is unstructured and untidy, full of hiding places and things to be discovered. It makes us feel alive. Nothing can beat the look of pride on a girl’s face when she cooks her own breakfast on a campfire which she lit using only cotton wool and a spark!


Posted: 09/05/2019 at 13:56
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