Posted May 30, 2008, updated Jun 01, 2009.
When your family is so very busy, spending time outside can seem like a luxury. However, research shows that time in green areas is important to overall health and well-being of children as well as adults.
Children have always learned by being curious and asking questions. One of the things families can do is take young children outside and let them explore nature. They are often fascinated by water, sand, mud, rain, clouds, and plants.
A University of Illinois scientist has found that children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) benefit from being outdoors in green environments. After spending time in green space outdoors, children with ADHD are much more ready to learn and focus when they return to an inside setting as compared to those spending time indoors or in outdoor non-green environments. Parents or caregivers who allow children some time outdoors after school in a grassy yard or tree-lined park might be making it easier for them to focus on homework later.
Researchers have also found links between early experiences with the natural world and development of a child’s imagination. Imaginary play is an important factor in a child’s healthy social and psychological development. In addition, pleasurable outdoor experiences have been found to contribute to recall skills, creative problem-solving and creativity in children.
Children (and adults) benefit from being in the sunshine. Being able to see nature refreshes and calms a child and reduces stress. Many schools have shortened recess and physical education classes and children are not as active as they need to be. This decrease in activity for children may be showing up in later lifestyle patterns of inactivity which reduces overall physical and psychological health.
Take time to incorporate more outdoor activity into your family life.
Children and Nature Network
National Forum on Children and Nature
National Environmental Education Initiative
Children, Nature, and You
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