Supervision a Key Issue in Children Playing Outdoors
Heritage Council reminds us of importance of children experiencing the outdoors, with launch of new online heritage resource for teachers & schools.
Supervision emerges as the number one barrier to children playing and experiencing the outdoors. As the Heritage Council launches a new online heritage resource for teachers and schools, www.heritageinschools.ie, the reality of our children’s experiences of the outdoors and the concern amongst parents of supervision becomes apparent.
Research into children and the outdoors, commissioned by the Heritage Council highlights that there is little doubt amongst parents of the benefits of children playing outdoors with 78% of adults stating that their children have access to nature or a wild area and 97% believing that spending time outdoors is important, in particular mentioning the positive physical and mental health benefits.
The research conducted in August 2010 examined the differences of playing outdoors between the generations. Parents were asked where they played when they were children and where their children aged between 7-11 years now play. Although playing at home, in a friend’s home indoors, the garden and the school playground are still the most popular locations for playing across the generations, a number of key differences did emerge.
Today there is a decrease of 23% in the number of children who play in fields, 20% decrease in the number who play in wild spaces and a 19% decrease in those who play in the woods. Instead the research found that there is an increase of 5% in the number of children who play in the school playground, 7% increase in those playing in school fields, 18% increase in those playing in outdoor playgrounds and a 41% increase in the number of children playing in indoor activity centres.
When asked about supervision there is an overall increase in the level of supervision amongst children today in comparison to that of when their parents were children with notable increases in the level of supervision at home (31%), in school playgrounds (22%), school playing fields (19%), outdoor playgrounds (35%), gardens (29%), indoor activity centres (43%), fields (16%) and wild spaces (14%).
Heritage Council Chief Executive Michael Starrett says, “what the research found is that the key barrier to children not spending time playing and exploring the real outdoors is supervision. Today children are spending the majority of their time playing at home or in playgrounds and indoor centres, all of which are closely supervised.
While the importance of supervision cannot be underestimated, as adults and parents we have a responsibility to also ensure that our children get the opportunity to experience the natural world. The concern is that supervised areas such as playgrounds or indoor centres do not provide the same learning opportunities as the natural world. If future generations are expected to protect and preserve our natural world children must be encouraged to take an interest in and experience the real outdoors”.
In their commitment to promote outdoor learning and interaction with nature, the Heritage Council’s is today launching its new Heritage in Schools website (www.heritageinschools.ie) which aims to become a leading online heritage resource for teachers and provide support for schools to take children outdoors to learn about the natural world.
Speaking about the scheme and website, Isabell Smyth, Head of Communications & Education at the Heritage Council said, “the Heritage in Schools scheme now has a panel of 165 heritage specialists who have a real passion for their subjects and want to share that enthusiasm with younger people and reconnect them with the world outside the classroom. The new website also makes available a wonderful range of projects and interactive worksheets for outdoor activities to encourage teachers to take the children outside to learn and engage with the natural world. It is possible to search by subject matter, class, county and heritage specialist. In addition all the resources are linked to the requirements of the Social, Environmental and Scientific Education (SESE) part of the primary school curriculum”.
Speaking about the website, the INTO said, “this is a most welcome addition to a very effective scheme. The new dedicated website is developed with teachers in mind and we hope that they find the site a useful addition to their learning tools. It will allow teachers to interact more easily with the heritage specialists building into a community of heritage learning. The site also provides links to a wide range of creative heritage resources and for the first time teachers will be able to search for information and resources that are focused on their local areas”.
Michelle Guinan, MKC Communications, 01 7038604 / 086 3846630
Isabell Smyth, Head of Communications & Education, The Heritage Council, 087 967 6889
Note to Editor
The Heritage Council is the statutory body charged with identifying, protecting, preserving and enhancing Ireland’s national heritage. National heritage includes Monuments, Archaeological objects, Heritage objects, Architectural heritage, Flora, Fauna, Wildlife habitats, Landscapes, Seascapes, Wrecks, Geology, Heritage gardens and parks, and Inland waterways.
Established under the Heritage Act 1995, and operating under the aegis of the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the Heritage Council provides advice to the Minister, and partners and networks with Local Authorities and a wide range of other organisations and individuals to promote Ireland’s heritage.
The cost to schools to have a Heritage Specialist visit the school for a full day is 100 euro and for disadvantaged schools it is 50e. For a half day it costs 60 e and for disadvantage schools it is 35e. The additional costs are borne by the Heritage Council. Half of the annual visits by Heritage Specialists are to disadvantaged schools.
The Research was conducted in August 2010 by Behaviour & Attitudes.