walk to school

New research, released for Walk to School Week, has revealed that worried parents are keeping kids indoors due to safety concerns. Read on for expert advice on overcoming these concerns and getting kids outdoors to play


New research, released to coincide with Walk to School Week (May 15-19), has uncovered the extent to which children are being kept indoors because of concerns over safety.


Data from 2,000 parents in the UK revealed that, while 86% of parents would like their kids to play outside more often, over half (57%) are plagued by safety concerns.


According to the research, which was conducted by National Accident Helpline via Twitter Polls and Google Surveys in April 2017, top parental safety concerns included danger from traffic and the potential for children to get lost.


However, experts agree on the value of getting children playing and exploring outside the home. Ellen Sandseter, Professor at Trondheim’s Queen Maud University College of Early Childhood Education, says that a lack of outdoor play can have serious implications for childhood development.


“Children aren’t as physically active as they used to be, and we have problems with increasing obesity and stress related symptoms in younger and younger age groups, some of which is caused by inactivity and passivity,” she said.


“A lot of studies show that outdoor play is one of the best ways to improve physical activity and health.”


According to Sandseter, regular outside play is a crucial part of early childhood development. “It’s so much better if children have experiences from a younger age – that’s when they learn the most,” she says. “Learning about nature from play situations can start from about age one.”


Mike Murphy, Education Development Manager at the Sussex Wildlife Trust, agrees with the importance of starting young. “It’s really important for children to learn life lessons about nature as a toddler, when outings are managed by parents or a teacher,” says Murphy. “Then, later, they’ll be familiar with the risks.”


Tanya Braun, at Walk to School Week organiser Living Streets, also emphasises the health benefits of outdoor activity, such as walking to school.


“Walking to school is a great way for children to start the day,” said Braun. “It’s good for physical and mental health and gives children a chance to get fresh air and experience nature.


“With today’s reliance on technology, getting outside in the morning for a walk can be relaxing and stimulate our minds, and results in children arriving at school fit, refreshed and ready to learn.”


Living Streets’ Walk to School Week aims to reverse the decline in children walking to school, one symptom of the overall issue of children spending less and less time outdoors. But how can parents overcome safety concerns and get their kids outside more?


In response to the survey results, National Accident Helpline sought advice from leading experts to discover ways in which parents could overcome their safety concerns and get kids playing outside.


Managing Director Simon Trott said: “We understand that parents’ safety concerns in this area are legitimate.


“However, we know that it’s very important that kids get outdoors to play, which is why we’ve worked closely with experts to put together a set of simple, practical tips on how to get kids outdoors safely.”


To read the full set of advice from the experts about getting kids outside safely, visit: