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.
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.
For our annual Bloo House adventure this year, the school took the children on a Native American experience in Herefordshire, staying in traditional tipis.
It was a warm and sunny day, when we left Bloo House in Surrey and started venturing out west. The Native American-style tipi setting sits calmly on the banks of the River Wye, far away from the hustle and bustle of modern day life.
The tents themselves comfortably slept up to eight and with a separate social tipi being next to the ready to go outdoor kitchen, everything was in place for a super outdoor break. Apart from many outdoor activities, like preparing meals next to a roaring fire and learning the art of whittling, the trip also included canoeing down the river. The first day was full of blue skies and was spent meandering downstream for several miles before finally heading back to the tipis and having a swim before supper.
The second day was dedicated fully to the Canadian canoes and we travelled further down the river, stopping briefly now and then to play a few games devised by our trusted canoe guides. However, one game, which involved holding 6 canoes together to form a raft and then hopping from one boat to another, did result in Melissa Carter, our school Principal taking a tumble into the water – oh dear!
Bloo House – an innovative independent school. Based in Surrey, we provide a co-educational learning environment for 5 – 11 year olds in Esher, Surrey. We are a progressive school, known for offering a highly personalised service to families and for encouraging academic excellence through self-understanding, creativity and integrity.
Our inspiring curriculum is centred on the individual. We provide an experience that goes beyond traditional education by integrating key areas of child development such as emotional, social and moral understanding. Children at Bloo House are empowered to express their individuality in a manner that positively impacts on themselves and those around them.
As such, character traits of integrity, confidence, determination and fortitude are central to our philosophy. Bloo House offers a learning environment that is truly unique. A setting that is warm, vibrant, full of energy and most importantly, inspiring. The results of such an endearing atmosphere is that our children are happy, healthy, communicative and subsequently flourish academically and socially when moving on to senior school.
Our success of pupils being offered places and scholarships at a number of the UK’s top secondary schools is, we believe, testament to the philosophy we follow.
If you share our passion for education and would be interested in discovering why we are held in such high regard by other schools, please feel free to give us a call and arrange a visit.
Melissa Carter, Principal of Bloo House, was recently interviewed by Brooklands Radio, where she spoke about Bloo House, it’s unique approach to education, its future and the importance of education reform in the UK.
To here the interview in full, click here.