With children aged 5 – 11 years old, Gill spent her time inspiring the children to write their own stories, taking ideas from the woodland surroundings and the shifting smoke patterns from the fire!
Gill’s stories reflect her passion for wild animals in wild places. She draws inspiration from many of the people she has had the fortune to meet during her work as a vet, both at home and abroad. Her first novel was snapped up for publication within hours of being offered to publishers. She lives in Somerset with her young family and a motley crew of pets. She writes from a tree house, in the company of squirrels.
Designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, World Book Day is marked in over 100 countries around the globe. Now in its 18th year, World Book Day aims to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading
World Book Day is a partnership of publishers, booksellers and interested parties who work together to promote books and reading for the personal enrichment and enjoyment of all. A main aim of World Book Day in the UK and Ireland is to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own.
At Bloo House Independent School in Surrey, the school celebrated the day in momentous style, with children dressing up as their favourite character. It was quite an eye opener for some of the team today, as they played host to Dr. Doolittle, Sherlock Holmes, a girl called Alice and even a tiger, that apparently came for tea!
Are we endangering our children’s natural childhood?
Natural childhood – Recent UK research suggests that we have created a society of indoor children. With the rise of technology and the influx of commercialism, our children are being brought up in a world that only supports the process of growing up quicker, rather than embracing the art of childhood. And the UK is one of the biggest proponents of this shift.
The current generation of children is exposed to more screen time than any other generation in our history. The amount of commercial marketing aimed at young children is more prevalent now than at any other time. And the pressure for performing well academically has become an obsession, not by children, but by their parents.
Children now spend less time outdoors and more time in front of a screen, which impacts their social, emotional and spiritual understanding, resulting in poor interpersonal and intrapersonal skills that they carry throughout their lives.
There is now critical evidence that our nation is no longer the outdoor nation we once prided ourselves on. The result of children becoming more alienated with the outdoor world can lead to
diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses. Critically, the majority of our nation’s children are missing out on the pure joy of connecting with the natural world and as adults, consequently lack an understanding of the importance of nature to human society.
Unless we consciously reverse this trend, we risk exacerbating the current situation, resulting in more individuals suffering from social, medical and environment illnesses in the future.
There are many factors, particularly embellished by the media, which have affected our decision making as parents to help our children. These include:
- Danger from traffic and how this severely limits children’s ability to venture outside.
- The issue of “health and safety” and the obsession to achieving a ‘zero-risk’ world resulting in severely limiting children’s freedom
- Parental fears of “stranger danger” and the impact it has on children’s freedom to roam in a wider environment
- The negative attitudes of some authority figures, who regard children’s play as something to be stopped rather than encouraged
As a result, when one studies the play and roaming environments of children in the UK, we see a trend over the last 30 years that has led to diminished children’s environments. We are now at a point where play areas, parklands and opportunities for children to explore their own neighbourhoods freely has been replaced with a cotton wool mentality through fear, resulting in the enclosure and containment of children – the exact opposite for what children need in order to thrive.
When studying the parental and behavioural characteristics of indigenous tribes, we often find a history of elders encouraging children and young adults to explore the natural world. A prime example happens in Australia, with a “walkabout” being a rite of passage for teenage boys having to live in the wild for several months. The goal is to make them mature enough to survive by themselves with the teenagers essentially tracing the paths of their ancestors, which has been a tradition for over 40,000 years.
It should be a prerogative that as parents, guardians and understanding and aware adults, that we empower and enable our children to explore their local environments more thoroughly, rather than just substituting the art of exploration purely on games such as Minecraft.
Life is always about balance. There is nothing wrong in exploring other pastimes that take part inside, but at the same time, these must be balanced with outdoor activities. By preventing children from exploring the outdoor world, we risk inhibiting them from learning key life skills in natural play, linked to social interaction and understanding of nature’s connection with mankind.
The natural world – its coastline, forests, meadows, hills and mountains offers a real experience – a real world. And it is up to us to help our current generation of children free themselves from the containment of indoor lifestyles and once again provide them with the opportunity to explore all that nature has to offer.
“Bloo House is an outstanding school” reports Ofsted during its recent inspection.
Since being founded in 2006, the school has always maintained the core values of child development – education, well being and happiness. These three principles have been at the centre of its ethos, creating the foundation needed for all individuals to positively thrive, whilst learning and enabling true potential and passion to shine through.
Ofsted’s inspectors were impressed with the ethos of the school and commented on the school’s inspiring curriculum , saying that standards were well above average, with pupils making rapid progress, achieving extremely well in reading, writing and mathematics. The report also stated that the general standard of teaching was outstanding with children’s behaviour being exemplary.
Reference was made to the excellent relationships between the teachers and the children, with a positive environment consistently being achieved within the school, allowing pupils to feel happy, safe and well supported.
When asked about what they thought of the school, children’s comments ranged from “teachers are so creative” to “this is the best school ever”.
Children from Bloo House visited Sayers Croft, the outdoor and activity park in Ewhurst,Surrey.
The site lies in 56 acres of woodlands, meadows, ponds and fields and has been providing quality outdoor experiences for young people for over 70 years.
Last week, pupils aged 9 – 11 years old took part team building games and environment challenges in order to promote a sense of belonging, togetherness and team work. These are the key areas of our inter and intra personal multiple intelligence curriculum.