Back in June we published our Complete Guide to Forest School and this explained how children can enjoy, learn and benefit from the natural world as part of their nursery experience. Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery has its own Forest School in Birmingham, so it’s something that all our under-fives enjoy as a matter of course.
In this new post we’ll explore the overall benefits of nature for young children. What does it do for them? How does it affect them? What are its long-term benefits? Let’s take a look …
Nature and playing in the natural world is good for children. Study after study concludes that children who spend time outside are happier, smarter, fitter, more attentive and less anxious than those who spend their time indoors.
Nature Benefits the Mind
Nature is enormously beneficial for children’s emotional and mental wellbeing.
- • Nature stimulates children’s imaginations. Watch children in the countryside for just a few moments and you can soon see their creativity kicking in, utilising the natural environment and materials around them in all manner of creative ways. Nature is an exceptional source of inspiration.
- • The natural world makes children think deeply. Children of all ages will look at natural objects, plants and animals and then look closer. They’ll ask questions about them, learning by discovery too, and build a huge knowledge about the natural world and all the things in it. It can often make them really think profound thoughts about where we came from, what it might be like to be a wild animal, why the flowers and trees change with the seasons, and so on.
- • The natural world is a wonderful stress-buster. Outside, in nature, children enter a completely different world and can leave the stresses of the modern world behind, almost instantly.
- • Being out in the natural world can boost children’s self-confidence by giving them more freedom to go in one direction or another, to create a myriad of activities within their surroundings and to simply be themselves.
- • Outdoors, children can be more free than in any other situation. With this new-found freedom, they can really ‘live’ and see a new side of life that will appeal to their inner instincts and natural sense of adventure.
- • Nature also teaches children about responsibility and self-control. Giving a child the responsibility to care for plants, or to put out seeds for the wildlife, teaches them valuable lessons about caring for other living things — and the responsibility that requires. Empathy will follow naturally.
- • It’s similar with the element of risk. They will quickly learn to risk-assess in the endless bounds and variety of the natural environment. That’s incredibly important.
- • Outdoor play is shown to improve children’s focus, especially for those with ADHD. It’s also shown to increase mental energy and short-term memory skills.
A study by the American Institute for Research found that children learning in outdoor classroom environments achieved a 27% improvement in science scores.
Nature Benefits the Body
Regular access to nature has enormous benefits for the physical health and bodies of people of all ages — especially growing children. These include … [ … READ MORE …]