Education: Let’s reconnect our children with nature

Journalist in Le Monde, its author Children of nature (1) And Take the kids out! (2), Moïna Fauchier-Delavigne explains to us why nature should be at the center of children’s education, and gives our young people the key to reconnecting with their environment.

Nature is no longer a part of children’s lives. Already in 2015, four out of ten children never played outside on weekdays (3). According to a survey published by the National Agency for Food Safety in 2020, sedentary lifestyles are exploding among 11-17 year olds: 66% of them practice less than 60 minutes of physical activity daily, despite being recommended by the WHO. Why have young people traded bike rides and outdoor games for their beds and screens? What are the consequences of this development? Interview with Moïna Fauchier-Delavine.

Leon Capital: Today, children play less outside than adults. Some even seem to have lost some contact with nature. Would you share this observation?

Autopsy in Foucault-Delavign: Yes, and we can go further and say that most young people are truly isolated from nature. Teachers and educators have told many anecdotes about children they come in contact with who do not know that the stars actually exist, who do not dare to walk barefoot in the grass, who have never jumped into a pond, played with a stick or climbed a tree. It may seem obvious and normal to the previous generation. They look absolutely awesome in most kids now. Not to mention that this phenomenon is pronounced over time.


“Parents prefer to keep their children at home so that they see the potential danger to the outside world …”


Why do young people move away from nature?

Kids have a busy schedule, including school, homework and extracurricular activities. This gives them little leisure time to play, especially outside. Their freedom of movement is also less than before. 40 years ago, a CE1 child could go to school alone, where it is unimaginable today. There is also an obsession with zero risk from parents, teachers, school headmasters, mayors … Many sandboxes have been removed from the school yard due to health reasons, parents also prefer that their children stay at home to avoid the potential dangers of the outside world … The chances of playing outside the screen are much lower. Not to mention repeated captivity, which has taken children away from nature and anchored them in their sedentary lives.

What are the negative effects of this break with nature on children’s development?

We often talk about the risk of being outside because we are terrified of a physical accident – a child can hit himself with a stick, fall from a swing or fall from a tree and injure himself – but staying indoors, often motionless and alone, is dangerous! The child actually misses experiences that are conducive to his or her physical and mental development, and the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle are always catastrophic, short-term and long-term. It causes problems with overweight and myopia, slows down the development of physical abilities, motor skills … If the child is not mobile, is in contact with other people with natural ingredients, it affects his well-being, maybe, to develop his social skills. Can’t …

It is said that nature does well. What is the effect on the physical and mental balance of children?

When we are in a natural environment, the level of stress decreases, we feel more at peace. The child who is allowed to experience direct contact with nature – running and falling at full speed on the slopes of grass, climbing trees – will develop his self-confidence. In fact, in this unadulterated and complex environment, apart from the four very smooth walls without roughness, he has to adapt, make decisions, examine his limits, discover the consequences of his actions … Conversely, a child who has a ‘sensitivity’ All of these tests prohibit and get the underlying message of mobility that he is not capable. Moreover, the time spent outside represents many opportunities to be wonderful, it is an opening towards beauty, towards the aesthetics of everyday life. It is also an opportunity for real moments of joy and sharing.


“We can take time every day to observe the nature of the surroundings.”


Communication with nature has a positive effect on a child’s cognitive development. Can we consider that being outside makes it possible to get better in class?

Absolutely! Being in nature is good for learning and academic success. This is also proved by hard research. Learning outside allows you to calm down, concentrate, concentrate, and memorize. It calms the relationship between children and adults. In Denmark, for example, 20% of kindergarten forest schools. Education by nature facilitates education, and since the 1990s large-scale training has been planned in the region for teachers and educators in certain countries, such as Ireland or England. France, we’re late, but the outside class is developing fast, even in Lyon.

Outdoor activities are not always easy, especially for young townspeople. How can parents reconnect their child with nature?

We can take time every day to observe the nature of the surroundings. Even if you live in the city, it is quite possible. For example, a little ant on the way home from school, sunlight through the trees, looking at the sky together, that’s enough to make you think of planting a tree on your window sill … no need to be a great naturalist to share that with his children. On weekends, you can go for a walk in a park. Parents who do not hesitate to buy boots and waterproof pants for their children so that they can play outside without any hindrance, in all weathers, jump in the pool, sit on the ground, fall, or even have mud. In France, we don’t dress properly to allow children to play! On holidays, you can plan long walks, go camping, sleep under the stars … all these are good for everyone, these are very important for the development of the child, they help him to understand that he is an integral part of his environment, Belongs to the world. Parents can also make teachers aware of the possibility of teaching outside.

Do parents still have a role to play with their teens?

Even with teenagers, nothing is set in stone. Although they usually enjoy the paths given to them by their parents, communication with nature is mainly through activities of their choice. They can be a chance to test their physical limitations, to feel overwhelmed … on the contrary risk taking should not be prevented. They are necessary. Especially since experimenting with nature will allow you to get to know it better, realizing that all of these elements are part of their world. Also, it will make them want to protect him.


1. Fired version (2019)
2. Robert Lafont version (2020)
3. Report published in 2015 by the French Institute for Public Health Monitoring


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