Time and play in nature is more important than most parents realize. Of the many moons humans have walked upon this planet, only in recent years have we spent so much time indoors with televisions, phones, and computers that enable us to become increasingly removed from material and social reality. There have been countless studies in recent years illuminating why spending time outdoors is vital for children’s development. According to Peter Kahn and Stephen Kellert’s research in Children and Nature: Psychological, Sociocultural, and Evolutionary Investigations, during and after outdoor experiences, children experience higher levels of mental, emotional, and physical health, better concentration, greater interpersonal skills, increased self-discipline, more advanced problem-solving skills, less stress, and enhanced creativity among many other benefits.
6 Reasons why kids should play in nature
- Time in nature is critical for healthy cognitive development at an early age. The dynamic multi-sensory stimulation that nature provides is the perfect ‘work out’ for a child’s growing mind. Source: Wells, N.M. At Home with Nature: Effects of “Greenness” on Children’s Cognitive Functioning. Environment and Behavior. Vol. 32, No. 6, 775-795. Rivkin, M.S. Natural Learning.
- Concentration is greatly increased after spending time in nature and significantly reduces symptoms of ADD/ADHD. Sources: Wells, N.M. (2000). At home with nature: Effects of “greenness” on children’s cognitive functioning. Environment and Behavior 32: 775-795. Hartig, T., Mang, M., & Evans, G.W. (1991). Restorative effects of natural environment experiences. Environment and Behavior 23: 3-26. Kuo, F.E. & Faber Taylor, A. (2004). A potential natural treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: evidence from a national study. American Journal of Public Health 94(9):1580-1586.
- Nature not only reduces stress levels, but also gives children the emotional tools to deal with stress more effectively in the urban world. Sources: Wells, N. & Evans, G. (2003). Nearby nature: A buffer of life stress among rural children. Environment and Behavior 35: 311-330. Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. New York: Algonquin Books. Frumkin, H. (2001). Beyond toxicity: Human health and the natural environment. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 20(3): 234-240. Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. New York: Algonquin Books.
- Children who spend regular time in nature are more likely to be emotionally, physically, and mentally healthy. Sources: Kellert, Stephen R. (2005). Building for Life: Designing and Developing the Human-Nature Connection.Washington: Island Press.
Frumkin, H. (2001). Beyond toxicity: Human health and the natural environment. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 20(3): 234-240.
- There is nothing better than nature to stimulate a child’s creativity, which leads to greater awareness and appreciation for the environment as a whole. Source:
Faber Taylor, A., Wiley, A., Kuo, F.E. & Sullivan, W.C. (1998). Growing up in the inner city: Green spaces as places to grow. Environment and Behavior 30(1): 3-27.
- Children who spend time playing with peers in nature develop greater self-discipline and interpersonal skills than those who do not. Source: Faber Taylor, A., Kuo, F.E., & Sullivan, W.C. (2002). Views of Nature and Self-Discipline: Evidence from Inner City Children. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 22, 49-63.