Benefits of

Nature Play

Benefits of

Nature Play

Developmental Benefits

“Natural environments provide children with unique opportunities such as inciting engagement, risk-taking, discovery, creativity, mastery and control, strengthening sense of self, inspiring basic emotional states including sense of wonder, enhancing psychological restoration.”

Spanish study, 2015

Academic Acheivement

Students in schools that utilized the environment around the school as a context for learning performed better in reading, writing, math, science, and social studies and tended to be more self-motivated and enthusiastic learners.

Sensory Processsing

Nature offers a healthy balance of sensory stimulation. Spending time in nature supports sensory integration and minimizes anxiety due to over stimulation or sensory processing disorders.

Perseverance

There is an element of risk and unpredictability in nature play. This can teach children to not shy away from obstacles. By climbing a tree or hiking to a summit, they discover the satisfaction earned through patience & effort.

Decision Making

Outdoor play is vast and ever-evolving. This invites children to make their own choices and choose their own adventures, which helps build confidence and independence.

Creativity

Nature is full of endless possibilities, so it's no surprise that children who engage in nature play think more creatively and are better problem-solvers.

Improved Executive Function

The creativity, problem-solving, and self-regulation that naturally occur during free play help strengthen executive functioning, which is crucial for both academic and social success.

Better Focus

Children with ADD function better after time spent in nature, and there is a direct correlation between the "greenness" of a child's play space and the severity of the ADD symptoms they display.

Independence

Nature play provides opportunities for children to challenge themselves and assess risks, encouraging independence and building self-confidence.

Risky Play

Nature offers a rich variety of freedom, risk, and play opportunities. Risky play builds confidence, enhances decision-making skills, and provides real-world experience.

Motor Skills

Children who play in natural settings perform better on gross and fine motor skills assessments than those who play on traditional playgrounds.

Body Control

Outdoor play builds and refines the whole body. Balance; Coordination; Gross motor skills; Fine motor skills.

Empathy

Children are less likely to be bullied in natural play spaces than on traditional playgrounds.

Developmental Benefits

“Natural environments provide children with unique opportunities such as inciting engagement, risk-taking, discovery, creativity, mastery and control, strengthening sense of self, inspiring basic emotional states including sense of wonder, enhancing psychological restoration.”

Spanish study, 2015

Academic Acheivement

Students in schools that utilized the environment around the school as a context for learning performed better in reading, writing, math, science, and social studies and tended to be more self-motivated and enthusiastic learners.

Better Focus

Children with ADD function better after time spent in nature, and there is a direct correlation between the "greenness" of a child's play space and the severity of the ADD symptoms they display.

Perseverance

There is an element of risk and unpredictability in nature play. This can teach children to not shy away from obstacles. By climbing a tree or hiking to a summit, they discover the satisfaction earned through patience & effort.

Decision Making

Outdoor play is vast and ever-evolving. This invites children to make their own choices and choose their own adventures, which helps build confidence and independence.

Risky Play

Nature offers a rich variety of freedom, risk, and play opportunities. Risky play builds confidence, enhances decision-making skills, and provides real-world experience.

Improved Executive Function

The creativity, problem-solving, and self-regulation that naturally occur during free play help strengthen executive functioning, which is crucial for both academic and social success.

Sensory Processsing

Nature offers a healthy balance of sensory stimulation. Spending time in nature supports sensory integration and minimizes anxiety due to over stimulation or sensory processing disorders.

Independence

Nature play provides opportunities for children to challenge themselves and assess risks, encouraging independence and building self-confidence.

Creativity

Nature is full of endless possibilities, so it's no surprise that children who engage in nature play think more creatively and are better problem-solvers.

Body Control

Outdoor play builds and refines the whole body. Balance; Coordination; Gross motor skills; Fine motor skills.

Motor Skills

Children who play in natural settings perform better on gross and fine motor skills assessments than those who play on traditional playgrounds.

Empathy

Children are less likely to be bullied in natural play spaces than on traditional playgrounds.

Developmental Benefits

“Natural environments provide children with unique opportunities such as inciting engagement, risk-taking, discovery, creativity, mastery and control, strengthening sense of self, inspiring basic emotional states including sense of wonder, enhancing psychological restoration.”

Spanish study, 2015

Academic Acheivement

Students in schools that utilized the environment around the school as a context for learning performed better in reading, writing, math, science, and social studies and tended to be more self-motivated and enthusiastic learners.

Better Focus

Children with ADD function better after time spent in nature, and there is a direct correlation between the "greenness" of a child's play space and the severity of the ADD symptoms they display.

Perseverance

There is an element of risk and unpredictability in nature play. This can teach children to not shy away from obstacles. By climbing a tree or hiking to a summit, they discover the satisfaction earned through patience & effort.

Decision Making

Outdoor play is vast and ever-evolving. This invites children to make their own choices and choose their own adventures, which helps build confidence and independence.

Risky Play

Nature offers a rich variety of freedom, risk, and play opportunities. Risky play builds confidence, enhances decision-making skills, and provides real-world experience.

Improved Executive Function

The creativity, problem-solving, and self-regulation that naturally occur during free play help strengthen executive functioning, which is crucial for both academic and social success.

Sensory Processsing

Nature offers a healthy balance of sensory stimulation. Spending time in nature supports sensory integration and minimizes anxiety due to over stimulation or sensory processing disorders.

Independence

Nature play provides opportunities for children to challenge themselves and assess risks, encouraging independence and building self-confidence.

Creativity

Nature is full of endless possibilities, so it's no surprise that children who engage in nature play think more creatively and are better problem-solvers.

Body Control

Outdoor play builds and refines the whole body. Balance; Coordination; Gross motor skills; Fine motor skills.

Motor Skills

Children who play in natural settings perform better on gross and fine motor skills assessments than those who play on traditional playgrounds.

Empathy

Children are less likely to be bullied in natural play spaces than on traditional playgrounds.

Health Benefits

“Time in nature is not leisure time; it’s an essential investment in our children’s health (and also, by the way, in our own).”

Richard Louv

Maintain Health Weight

Children who spend more time playing outdoors are more physically active and less likely to be overweight or obese.

Boost Vitamin D Levels

Playing outdoors increases sun exposure, boosting levels of Vitamin D and ensuring strong bones and healthy bodies.

Vision Development

Although childhood myopia is becoming increasingly common, children who spend more time playing outside are less likely to develop nearsightedness.

Improve Mental Health

Spending time in nature reduces stress and anxiety levels, boosts self-esteem, teaches problem-solving skills, and helps prevent social isolation.

Stress Reduction

Chronic stress is toxic to the developing brain. Outdoor play provides multifaceted relief; exposure to nature is scientifically proven to alleviate stress, and playtime encourages kids to release & explore bottled-up emotions safely.

Improved Sleep

Natural light regulates the internal "sleep clock", which encourages daytime energy and nighttime fatigue. Physical activity tires kids out in a healthy, constructive way.

Health Benefits

“Time in nature is not leisure time; it’s an essential investment in our children’s health (and also, by the way, in our own).”

Richard Louv

Maintain Health Weight

Children who spend more time playing outdoors are more physically active and less likely to be overweight or obese.

Boost Vitamin D Levels

Playing outdoors increases sun exposure, boosting levels of Vitamin D and ensuring strong bones and healthy bodies.

Vision Development

Although childhood myopia is becoming increasingly common, children who spend more time playing outside are less likely to develop nearsightedness.

Improve Mental Health

Spending time in nature reduces stress and anxiety levels, boosts self-esteem, teaches problem-solving skills, and helps prevent social isolation.

Stress Reduction

Chronic stress is toxic to the developing brain. Outdoor play provides multifaceted relief; exposure to nature is scientifically proven to alleviate stress, and playtime encourages kids to release & explore bottled-up emotions safely.

Improved Sleep

Natural light regulates the internal "sleep clock", which encourages daytime energy and nighttime fatigue. Physical activity tires kids out in a healthy, constructive way.

Conservation Benefits

“We will not fight to save what we do not love.”

Stephen Jay Gould

Foster a love of the environment

A childhood rich with nature play fosters a lifelong love and devotion to the environment. Not only is this connection deeply rewarding to the individual, but it can also shape a more eco-conscious future for all of the planets inhabitants If children's innate attraction to the natural world is not fostered, they are more likely to develop biophobia, an aversion to nature that may manifest as a lack of concern for the environment.

Awareness

Children who experience nature firsthand are more likely to demonstrate pro-environmental behaviors than those who learn about the environment abstractly in the classroom. Frequent, unstructured experiences in nature are the most common influence on the development of life-long conservation values.

Conservation Benefits

“We will not fight to save what we do not love.”

Stephen Jay Gould

Foster a love of the environment

A childhood rich with nature play fosters a lifelong love and devotion to the environment. Not only is this connection deeply rewarding to the individual, but it can also shape a more eco-conscious future for all of the planets inhabitants If children's innate attraction to the natural world is not fostered, they are more likely to develop biophobia, an aversion to nature that may manifest as a lack of concern for the environment.

Awareness

Children who experience nature firsthand are more likely to demonstrate pro-environmental behaviors than those who learn about the environment abstractly in the classroom. Frequent, unstructured experiences in nature are the most common influence on the development of life-long conservation values.

Emma Huvos – Educator. Advocate. Entrepreneur.
AAA – State of Play

1. Lieberman & Hoody, Closing the Achievement Gap: Using the Environment as an Integrating Context.
2. Taylor, Kuo & Sullivan, Coping With ADD: The Surprising Connection to Green Play Spaces.
3. Burdette & Whitaker, Resurrecting Free Play in Young Children.
4. Erin Kenny, Forest Kindergartens: The Cedarsong Way.
5. David Suzuki, Why Learning Outside in Nature is Good for Teachers and Students.
6. Juster, Ono & Stafford, Changing Times of American Youth: 1981-2003.
7. White & Stoecklin, Nurturing Children’s Biophilia.
8. Finch & Loza, Nature Play: Nurturing Children and Strengthening Conservation Through Connections to the Land.
9. National Wildlife Federation;
10. Whole Child: Developing Mind,. Body and Spirit through Outdoor Play.
11. Angela Hanscom, Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children.
12. William Bird, Natural Thinking: Investigating the Links Between the Natural Environment, Biodiversity, and Mental Health.
13. https://www.pnas.org/content/112/28/8567.abstract
14. https://mdc.mo.gov