Parents should stop putting their kids in front of an iPad and get them playing outside during the school holidays, according to a Gerringong PhD candidate.
Former primary school teacher Amanda Lloyd, 37, studied the benefits of educating children outdoors in the UK and has continued her studies home in Australia.
“It’s all screen time and not green time,” Ms Lloyd said. “They’re not used to touching grass and like they won’t sit down or climb a tree … you do come across kids that are so scared to interact with our natural environment.”
She said as a result of a technology obsessed society children are increasingly losing their gross motor skills, they’re increasingly wearing glasses and even some studies found kids had trouble walking on uneven ground because they’re too used to being inside.
“I found as a teacher I had a lot of children whose fine motor skills weren’t developed at all because they weren’t used to manipulating small objects and just used to sliding across screens,” Ms Lloyd said.
Her thesis involved conducting outdoor based learning in a Year One classroom and how it would affect a child’s educational outcome.
She said some of her findings were unexpected such as kids started to use a richer language to describe their environment in greater context and detail, while others were expected such as growing in competence, resilience and leadership.
“Their overall well-being benefited quite distinctly,” she said.
Ms Lloyd founded Outdoor Connections with Penny Sadubin, a nature based school holiday program provider which takes kids aged five to 12 years on adventures around Kiama, Gerringong and Gerroa.
A fallen down log, textured tree branches, an array of sandstone boulders, a trickling creek, sand dunes and grassed open spaces become an adventure playground for children attending Outdoor Connections holiday activities.
With a focus on play, craft and exploration, children are immersed in the outdoors for a day of fun alongside their friends.
Common activities include nature crafts, shelter building, scavenger hunt walks, sand sculpting, games and nature play.
The holiday programs are “drop and go”, meaning parents drop their children off at the designated location at 9am and come back to collect them at 3pm.
All activities occur exclusively outdoors. To obtain the Outdoor Connections Enrolment Package visit www.outdoorconnections.com.au/assets/enrolment-package.pdf.