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There’s nothing better than watching children exploring our woods, climbing in the trees, meeting the ducks and birds in the reserve and running free across Bentley estate. We are open every day this half term and welcome children of all ages to come and play outside.

The RSPB are taking part in some much-needed research looking at how a generation of children, who have become disconnected from nature, could put our nation’s wildlife at risk in future years. The RSPB write:

Evidence shows that the proportion of children playing out in natural spaces has dropped by as much as 75 per cent over the last thirty to forty years. 4  This is despite the proven positive effects that contact with the natural World has on children’s physical and mental health, personal and social development, and even academic achievements and life chances.

If the decline in connection continues the consequences for wildlife and people could be catastrophic, as children who don’t value and respect nature when they’re young are less likely to see the importance of protecting the natural environment when they’re older.

Extract taken from www.rspb.org.uk

Here at Bentley, we have worked with schools from across the region hosting days out for school children, giving them the chance to learn about local wildlife. Circle of Life Rediscovery also has a camp in our woods where they train teachers in outdoor education and share their passion for outdoor play. They’ve recently been running a Forest School at Ringmer Primary School for Years 3 and 4. You can read all about it on their blog.

On Bentley estate, we have a wood play area, with trees to climb and willow tunnels to play in. There’s a willow boat to take children on their own imagined adventures. We have bug houses to examine (bring your magnifiers!) in the woods and hundreds of ducks and birds to meet and identify. But most of all there’s space to play, get muddy and run!

Remember to watch the ever brilliant BBC Autumnwatch to give you and your kids ideas about what wildlife you might be able to spot at this time of year. Autumnwatch 2012 starts on Tuesday 30th October in time for half term. Remember to bring your binoculars to Bentley!

Play England has just launched a campaign called Love Outdoor Play. Check out their website for ideas and advice. And we hope to see you here at Bentley with your children this half term.

Bentley is open every day from 10.30am to 5.30pm this half term.