There is nothing new with the idea that spending time in nature is beneficial. But a new analysis*, examining hundreds of studies, helps bring together the data and provides specifics on how it is beneficial.
The study’s lead author says they the discovered 8 ways in which playing in nature boosts children’s learning:
- A rejuvenating effect on attention
- Relieves stress
- Boosts self-discipline
- Increases physical activity
- Promotes student self-motivation
- Promotes student enjoyment
- Promotes student engagement
- Increases physical fitness
The positive effects of time in nature go beyond academics: the study found numerous examples from both independent observers and participants that time in nature helps shift perspective, aids in problem solving skills, supports critical thinking, fosters leadership, teamwork and resilience.
So, the next time you think about taking your children to a plastic-toy dominated playground or indoor play space, perhaps consider a visit to a neighborhood park instead.
My child doesn’t like to go for nature hikes! There are lots of ways to enjoy nature without hiking.
Collect leaves. Build stick houses. Skip stones into the stream or lake. Dig in the dirt. Make “magic potions” from natural ingredients. Have a picnic at the park. Play follow the leader.
And check out some of these great resources:
https://www.fs.usda.gov/learn/kids this page lists lots of resources including links to local activities
https://everykidoutdoors.gov/index.htm US Government resource providing 4th graders and their families free access to “parks, lands, and waters” for an entire year.
https://urbanforestrysouth.org/kids-in-the-woods wonderful summary of the Kids in the Woods program, plus online resources, tips, tools, ideas and educational materials.
*The study is published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, fpsyg.2019.00305