RESEARCH AND OUTCOMES OF OUTDOOR PLAY AND LEARNING
A growing body of research is finding a remarkable range of positive impacts from frequent, unstructured play in rich, diverse, natural settings that cover the entire realm of holistic child development: physical, social, emotional, intellectual, creative and spiritual. Some of these benefits are:
Supports multiple domain development: Connecting with nature helps your child develop socially, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. (Kellert, 2005).
Supports creativity and problem solving skills: Children who play outside have more active imaginations are are more likely to be able to solve a complex problem than peers who spend most of their time inside. (Kellert, 2005)
Enhances concentration and lessens ADD-like behaviors: Daily exposure to nature increases a child's ability to focus, enhances their cognitive ability, and significantly lessens symptoms of ADD in children as young as five (Kuo and Taylor, 2004).
Improves academic performance: Schools that use outdoor classrooms and other forms of nature-based education show significant student gains in social studies, science, language arts, and math. (American Institutes for Research, 2005).
Improves nutrition: Children who grow their own food are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables and a well-balanced diet. They are also more likely to continue healthy eating habits throughout their lives (Morris & Zidenberg-Cherr, 2002).
Improves social relations: When children are free to explore and engage in unstructured play outdoors (both by themselves and with others), they are smarter and better able to get along with others. (Burdette and Whitaker, 2005).
Reduces stress: Green plants and vegetation reduce stress among highly stressed children. Locations with greater number of plants, greener views, and access to natural play areas show more significant results (Wells and Evans, 2003).
Improves eyesight: More time spent outdoors is related to reduced rates of nearsightedness, also known as myopia, in children and adolescents (American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2011).
These are just a few of the many benefits that research has found for children who play and engage in nature every day! Don't you feel wonderful that you are helping your child improve in every area of their lives, simply by taking them outside? You should!
(Thanks to Jax from Saplings: A Forest and Nature Preschool in NH and Crunchy Farm Baby for sharing with her! )
Books we Love:
Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv (2008)
How to Raise a Wild Child, by Scott D. Sampson (2015)
The Sense of Wonder, by Rachel Carson (orig published 1965, most recent reprint, 1998)
The Children & Nature Network: Kids and Nature in the News. Articles covering the children and nature movement, and observations and studies verifying the benefits of children and families connecting with nature.
School Starting Age: The Evidence - (2013) Cambridge researcher David Whitebread, from the Faculty of Education, explains why children may need more time to develop before their formal education begins in earnest.