In this week's blog we focus on how nature can boost our young people's mental wellbeing.
Biophilia refers to the innate human tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. This concept has been studied extensively by scientists and environmentalists, who have found that exposure to nature can have profound positive effects on mental wellbeing.
For children, experiences of biophilia can be especially important for their mental health and wellbeing. Studies have shown that exposure to nature can help children develop a sense of connection and empathy for other forms of life, which can promote a sense of purpose and belonging in the world.
Biophilic experiences can also have physical benefits, such as reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. This is because exposure to nature has been shown to have a calming and restorative effect on the brain, which can promote emotional stability and reduce negative emotions.
There are many ways that we can help children experience biophilia in the classroom.
6 ways include:
1. Encouraging outdoor play: We can encourage outdoor play wrapped in care, which provides children with opportunities to explore and interact with nature and other forms of life in a psychologically safe environment. This is covered in our Trauma Informed PE programme.
2. Active form times: Try taking your group out for a walk during form time. Encourage children to walk in pairs or more to develop their relationships and discuss a topic. This is a great time to practise mindfulness by discussing 5 things they are grateful for and why or developing self-confidence by reflecting on what they are good at in life. We cover this and more in our RISE Up programme.
3. Outdoor Physical Education lessons and clubs: Get your children outside in a range of PE lessons and clubs from outdoor adventure activities, skiing, sailing to rugby and yoga. The opportunities are endless.
4. Incorporating nature-based learning: We can incorporate nature-based learning into their curriculum, such as taking children on nature walks, incorporating gardening into the curriculum, or teaching children about local flora and fauna and forest schools.
We were fortunate enough for my brilliant headteacher, Paul Collin, alongside Andrew Gilbertson, to develop an incredible school allotment with Matt Willer’s brilliant charity ‘The Papillion Project’ which became a fantastic calming sanctuary for our youngsters.
My previous school, Acle Academy, had their annual school walk which was a day walking around the Norfolk Broads, again it is a fantastic way to foster awe and wonder and get some fresh air in nature.
5. Creating natural learning environments: We can create natural learning environments in the classroom, such as incorporating plants or other natural elements into the classroom decor.
6. Promoting environmental awareness: We can promote environmental awareness by teaching children about the importance of protecting and conserving the natural world. I have had the pleasure to work with some outstanding colleagues at this, who all happened to be science teachers. We love following Edd Moore and Kenny Peavy's work in this area on LinkedIn.
Do you want to improve your students' wellbeing?
Take the first steps here by completing our 'School Wellbeing Scorecard here.
This action will help you map your school's wellbeing provision in 3 minutes and identify the key areas to focus on for your setting.
You will receive a personalised report and a complimentary login to our taster ‘RISE Up’ course. Here you will be able to experience Step 1 and 2 of our 9 Step RISE Up teacher training course.
Information about our RISE UP early intervention mental wellbeing teacher training course can be found here.
Come Join Us at the YST National Conference 2024
Our founder, Neil Moggan, Kate Reynolds, Jon White and David Saul will be presenting the "Beyond the Buzz: The power of a 'trauma-Informed approach' in improving behaviour and attendance" session.
We would love you to join us. More information on the conference can be found here.
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