This blog is provided by Emma Jenkins, Manager of Kent Children’s University, with some exciting half term alternatives to TV and tablets…
“Children don’t remember their best day of television” is a quote we often use with families who are part of Kent Children’s University (KCU). Life is all about making memories, discovering and trying new things, as well as realising the beauty we have around us. With this in mind, Kent Children’s University was keen to get involved in Kent Year of Green Action by writing, creating and promoting a KCU #YearOfGreenAction Challenge.
So far, children have taken part in the Big Garden Birdwatch, the Great British Spring Clean, made their own nature journals, created wildlife habitats in their own gardens and much more. The Challenge will run throughout 2019 and it has been heart-warming to see everyone embracing Kent Year of Green Action and making a difference to the environments in which they live. If your family has not taken up the challenge already, half term could be a good time to start!
Despite all this positive activity, we live in an age where technological advances mean that large numbers of children engage far more freely with digital devices, such as television and tablets, than with the natural world.
In 2017, researchers from Cambridge University sought to “quantify children’s knowledge of nature” by surveying a cohort of 4 to 11 year olds. The results were staggering. Children over the age of eight were “substantially better” at identifying Pokémon “species” than “organisms such as oak trees or badgers”: around 80% accuracy for Pokémon, but less than 50% for real species.
Science (an online magazine) has pointed to evidence linking “loss of knowledge about the natural world to growing isolation from it”. We need, the magazine concluded, “to re-establish children’s links with nature if we are to win over the hearts and minds of the next generation”, for “we love what we know … What is the extinction of the condor to a child who has never seen a wren”?”
Technology is magnificent, awe-inspiring and exciting. But so is our living world, including our environment and everyday nature with which we share our lives with. With this in mind, I wrote the Year of Green Action Challenge which contains 20 activities for children and their families or schools to complete between January 2019 and January 2020. This equates to four activities per season.
The activities focus on the Year of Green Action themes of Connect, Enhance and Protect. As an #iwill Social Action partner, we also included opportunities for children to research and campaign for environmental issues in a variety of ways.
You can find out more about our Challenge by visiting the KCU website, but do come back in the Summer for an update on how our Kent Children’s University’s participants are progressing with the Challenge!
For now, why not look at the activities suggested, and plan some quality time with nature soon!
Call to Action! : Explore Kent are inviting children to send us their blogs and vlogs about outdoors activities, to earn credits with Kent Children’s University. If you decide to participate in the KCU Year of Green Action Challenge, send us a blog/vlog of your activity to earn 1 or 2 learning credits. You might even see your blog or vlog featured on our website!
See the pictures below for some examples of community gardening, litter picking, and bird watching/bird box making in action for Children’s University!