As urbanisation and digital access increases, children are growing up without the understanding and experience of what nature is.
Engagement with nature has multiple reported physical, mental and social benefits, as well as improves conservation behaviour. Engagement with nature may therefore be an effective way to target the current decline in child wellbeing and academic performance in Australia, as well as support the very environment that provides this benefit.
The Australian school context provides a unique environment whereby the use of outdoor engagement with nature as a learning tool could provide a vehicle for positive change amongst Australian children. The question remains as to whether we can use engagement with nature at school to improve the lives of Australian children, and bring about greater awareness and care for the environment?
Dr Mark Kohler (School of Psychology) is partnering with the Jane Goodall Institute Australia and the Philips Foundation to produce 4,000 resource boxes that will be delivered to Australian primary schools to enable implementation of a nature-based learning project aligned with the current school curriculum.
For each participating classroom, the project will involve:
- The provision of the resource box at no cost to the school
- A preliminary measure of student mental health, social skills and resilience, connection to nature, daily activity, and school performance
- Implementation by school classes of a nature-based project, and
- Follow-up of student outcome
For interested schools, please see Roots and Shoots for the information toolbox or contact Angela Colliver direct from the Jane Goodall Institute.
Blog post by Dr Mark Kohler. Contact Mark for more information about this research please.