How to ‘re-wild’ your child

Like many parents, David Bond was becoming increasingly alarmed by the lack of outdoors play enjoyed by his young children. So he decided to do something about it.

As a filmmaker he used his trade to go out into communities across the UK to find out what barriers there are for the amount of time that children spend outdoors. He wanted to know why the latest generation of kids were spending the least amount of time outdoors, ever.

13381pre_5189b0b8447e87bHe talked to parents and children and he came up with a plan: Project Wild Thing.

In the last fortnight, the launch of his film about his quest to get his kids to go out to "re-find" nature and wild things has been hugely well-received in cinemas and communities.

Project Wild Thing has gone viral on social media sites including Facebook and Twitter and Wild Time app (accessible through the Project Wild Thing website and the iTunes store) has been downloaded (for free) more times than David could ever have hoped for.

When I caught up with the creator of Project Wild Thing, he said: “It’s been amazing. The project launch has been incredibly well received and we are really looking forward to how this will start to change children’s lives.”

The Wild Network

Working in conjunction with Project Wild Thing is the Wild Network, which is a collaboration of organisations committed to championing a greater connection with nature and wildness in children and young people.

If you're an organisation working with wildness, the outdoors, outdoor play, outdoor education, or nature re­connection, you can also sign up to this Wild Network for free.

What parents can do

If you are a parent you might like to find out more about the benefits of re-wilding your children, and how to do this.

David said: “In the 21st century there appear to be numerous barriers that stop children going outdoors to play and enjoy nature. These include realities but also many fantasies.

“For example, parents believe that nature and green spaces are much harder to find today but they are out there and accessible if you know where and how, and even in cities.

“We also seem to live in a risk averse culture, where parents believe that children being outdoors is riskier than them being indoors but the risks of being indoors are in fact much greater, including obesity and lack of Vitamin D.”

Benefits of outdoors play for kids

We have blogged about the many benefits of outdoors play for children before but it’s worth repeating. Children who spend more time outdoors benefits from:

  • Improved mental and physical health
  • Better socialisation
  • Improved communication skills
  • Higher chance of becoming an industry leader
  • Improved entrepreneurial skills
  • More balanced individuals.

Swap screen time for outdoors time

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Project Wild Thing is calling on parents to help their kids to swap 30 minutes of being indoors on their computers, watching TV or watching any kind of screen for the same time spent outdoors each day.

David suggests that even five minutes each day would be a great start. He said: “Some people can’t imagine where they will find the time to go outdoors even for a few minutes so we are calling for them to find just five minutes each day.

“This could then be built up to more minutes once they realise how simple it is to go outdoors – and how much children enjoy this time.

“We hope then that the 30 minutes of outdoors time each day will seem more achievable.”

How to enjoy Wild Time

Here are 15 things to try:

10 minutes of Wild Time

  • Go outside, lie down and look at clouds. What shapes can you see?
  • Look for a trail of ants and follow it forwards and backwards. Where have they come from and where are they going?
  • When it rains, pull on waterproofs and wellies and jump in the puddles near your home.
  • Find a blade of grass, put your thumbs together and hold the blade tightly. Then blow through it to make a Grass Trumpet.
  • Walk like an animal. Go into the garden and think about how different animals walk. Then try to walk in the same way.

20 minutes of Wild Time

  • Go for a short walk in the garden, park or even just along the street and see if you can spot a bird. If you do, stop and quietly watch it for a while.
  • Catch a smell. Go out for a walk from your home and “catch smells”. What can you smell? Pick up fallen leaves, crouch down to smell flowers or the earth.
  • Collect a bag of fallen leaves. Then try to match each of them with their tree.
  • Stop and listen. Go outside and simply stand still. What can you hear that is natural?

30 minutes of Wild Time

  • Go for a Spy Walk. Walk a route you already know, such as to school or the shops. Along the way use your spy skills to seek out all the wild things. Spy it, snap it, note it or sketch it.
  • Don’t read indoors, go outdoors. Find a suntrap spot and enjoy reading your book surrounded by nature.
  • Challenge yourself and friends to see how far they can explore a woodland or garden without touching the floor. Look for tree stumps, rocks, logs, tree branches, tree roots etc.
  • Cook hot chocolate in the open. You’ll need parents to help with this and a camping stove. Take all you need and find a sheltered spot in the great outdoors for your hot chocolate making fun.
  • Collect bits of nature, such as leaves, stones, earth, petals etc and arrange them into a picture. You could make the picture in the outdoors on a patio, pavement or on the grass.
  • Build a den in the garden or a woodlands.

And if you still need to be convinced, why not book a community screening of the Project Wild Thing film?

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