The Wildlife Trusts’ guides help children learn how nature can help tackle the climate crisis.
Anyone who grew in the 1980s cannot have been spared the threat of nuclear war.
For those who watched or even glimpsed the film Threads, indelible images remained for years to come – the mushroom cloud was enough to send some of us scurrying to bed.
Today’s children may be exposed to even more material online, but that doesn’t lessen the fear that some of the world’s alarming happenings can provoke in them.
Climate change is scary stuff for many adults; to a child’s mind it has the potential to be even more frightening.
So how can we balance the need to educate our next generation without overwhelming them?
One way to empower young people is to make them feel like they can make an impact.
The Wildlife Trusts, a grassroots movement of 46 charities, released new educational guides to help primary schoolchildren learn about how nature can help address the climate crisis.
“The interlinked climate and ecological crises present the biggest challenges ever faced by humanity,” said Dom Higgins, head of health and education, The Wildlife Trusts.
“This can be extremely daunting, especially for children with their whole lives ahead of them.
“In this crucial decade for determining the future climate, we want children and young people to understand how nature can help us while empowering them to take action in their communities. It’s so important teachers have access to engaging resources that give them confidence to teach these issues and that children, as well as adults, feel able to make a difference.”
Nature’s Climate Heroes
The educational pack, Nature’s Climate Heroes, has been funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and is designed to help teachers of children aged from seven to 11 years old.
It is hoped that the resources will help children understand the connections between the natural environment, changing climate, and people.
The project’s core is an effort to change the way climate change is taught in primary school. It will shift its focus from something scary and overwhelming to something that can be addressed through collective action.
It empowers children to take small, but collectively important actions in their communities.
The scheme also provides teachers with a structured, comprehensive guide to help them teach lessons about how human activities affect the climate and why restoration of nature is so crucial for our future.
Solutions to address climate change and wildlife loss should be fundamental to children’s education, say The Wildlife Trusts.
The movement is calling for changes in the school curriculum to ensure that climate and nature education is standard across schools.
Research shows that climate change concerns 92% of teachers.
According to Teach the Future’s March research, 70% of UK teachers have not been given the proper training to teach students about climate change.
The research revealed that 92% of teachers are concerned by climate change.
41% of respondents say it is not often or never discussed in schools, and only 5% say that the issue is integral to all aspects of their school’s curriculum and teaching.
Some 17 per cent say it’s mentioned in core subjects other than science and geography.
The Wildlife Trusts want all children to have the opportunity to learn in natural spaces every week.
A study published in 2019 revealed that children’s well-being increased after they had spent time connecting with nature.
The Wildlife Trusts requested research from the Institute of Education at University College London in order to assess the impact of nature on children.
It was a study that focused on primary schoolchildren, and the effects of Wildlife Trust-led activities upon their well-being.
More than three quarters of children surveyed felt that their experience could help their schoolwork.Teachers, parents, carers and others can access the Nature’s Climate Heroes resources on Wildlife Watch, the junior branch of The Wildlife Trusts, by visiting http://www.wildlifewatch.org.uk/natures-climate-heroes.
These lesson plans are intended for teachers, but they could be modified for anyone who works with kids.