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90% of parents think children are losing their imaginations by age ten, a new study reveals.
Researchers found lack of outdoor play and too much time spent on computers and games consoles are being blamed for making today’s children less imaginative.
The results come as the Forestry Commission launches a programme of enchanting activities inviting you and your children to enjoy the magic of the forest throughout 2013.
The Forest Fairy Tales campaign will see events take place across the South and includes fairy trails, picnics, crafts and story walks across various Forestry Commission sites.
The campaign aims to engage a whole generation of youngsters in imaginative outdoor play and reverse perceptions many parents have about their child’s interest in the world of pretend.
At Moors Valley Country Park and Forest, near Ringwood, a magical, musical tree house, inspired by Russian stories adds a new dimension to the play trail. The tree house will be unveiled this month as part of the Park’s 25th anniversary celebrations.
Russian tales of a walking magical hut inspired the ornate fairy tale style house and the Moors Valley version will offer a variety of unique play features and is inclusive of children with a wide variety of needs.
As well as exploring the structure, children will enjoy filling buckets and colanders suspended on chains with sand in order to make a variety of musical sounds including gongs, bells, and drums.
At Bolderwood in the New Forest, ‘A Mousy Tale’ will be brought to life this summer as the woodland sets the scene for a forest adventure to discover some very special hidden secrets – 24th and 25th August, 12:00, 13:30 and 15:00. No need to book, just turn up. £3 per child.
Of the 2,000 parents of school-age children surveyed by Forestry Commission England, nearly three quarters think that today’s children play outdoors less than they did as children and half (51%) believe this directly influences how much imagination they have.
The survey also found that three quarters of adults think children spend too much time on computers and games consoles and over half (55%) think the rise in technology use is also responsible for children’s lack of imagination.
Indulging in a little make believe has long been thought to have far-reaching developmental benefits for children: Albert Einstein wrote about the importance of fairy tales in boosting children’s intelligence and the child psychotherapist Bruno Bettelheim believed fairy tales helped children develop independence and key social skills such as empathy .
As well as providing important moral lessons, fairy tales create a space where children can vent complicated feelings, explore their wildest dreams and confront their fears about the big bad monster, finding a way to decipher good from evil and resolve conflicts .
Why not come along to ‘Tales from the Deep Dark Woods’ at Moors Valley on Saturday 24 August, part of Dorset’s ‘Sting in the Tale’ storytelling festival? You and your family will be led on a journey deep into the woods, as performers tell traditional tales of forest lore and wonder on the way (charges and booking applies, please call: 01425 470721 or visit www.moors-valley.co.uk).
Justin Rylands, Forestry Commission Ranger at Moors Valley said:
“Forests are the perfect backdrop to inspire children’s imaginations as many of the most exciting fairy tales are set in the woods, and Forest Fairy Tales will encourage children to explore new worlds using their imaginations, becoming Little Red Riding Hood, a brave knight or a wicked witch.
“Our research shows that many children aren’t engaging in outdoor play to the same extent as their parents did, and we must work harder to encourage those young people to go outside and use their imaginations before the joy of make-believe and pretend is lost forever.
The survey follows a 2011 Government consultation to which 42,000 people responded which revealed the special place the nation’s forests hold in our hearts.
Many of those who answered said they valued woodlands and forests as places for personal enjoyment and appreciation of the natural world.
And more than four-fifths of respondents to a Forestry Commission survey in 2011 agreed that woods are “good places for children to learn about the outdoors”, while three quarters thought “playing in woods is good for children’s health”.
Activities will be taking place throughout the year at a number of Forestry Commission sites. To find out more and download free online activity sheets visit www.forestry.gov.uk/fairytales.
The results have been generated in a survey commissioned by the Forestry Commission of 2,000 parents of school-aged children.
Notes to Editors:
Media Contact: Spirit Public Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org or 0117 944 1415
The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands.
Moors Valley Country Park and Forest
Nature and people flourish side by side at Moors Valley Country Park and Forest which this year is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a host of wildlife themed activities and events. Set in 700 acres, Moors Valley is home to a wide range of plants and animals as well as recreational and play facilities. Every year over 750,000 visitors enjoy the cycleways, a tree-top trail, picnic areas, lake and forest walks and play structures.
Alongside an extensive events programme further attractions include:
• high wire forest adventure – Go Ape!
• cycle hire
• narrow gauge steam experience on Moors Valley Railway
• recreational fishing lake
• 18 hole Moors Valley Golf Course
• Seasons restaurant
• Country Shop
Moors Valley is the joint venture of East Dorset District Council and the Forestry Commission. It is just ten miles north of Bournemouth, at Ashley Heath, on the Dorset/Hampshire border.
For a full list of events and for more information visit www.moors-valley.co.uk.