URBANA, Ill. - Spending time in nature boosts children's academic achievement and healthy development, concludes a new analysis examining hundreds of studies.
Ming Kuo, associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois and lead author on the Frontiers in Psychology study, says she expected the critical review to lead to more questions than answers.
Instead, all signs pointed to the same outcome: "It is time to take nature seriously as a resource for learning," she says, "in fact, the trend of increasing indoor instruction in hopes of maximizing standardized test performance may be doing more harm than good."
Kuo and her University of Minnesota co-authors found that nature boosts learning in eight distinct ways.
"We found strong evidence that time in nature has a rejuvenating effect on attention; relieves stress; boosts self-discipline; increases physical activity and fitness; and promotes student self-motivation, enjoyment, and engagement," Kuo explains.
Moreover, nature creates a calmer, quieter, and safer setting for learning; fosters warmer, more cooperative relations among students; and affords more creative, more exploratory forms of play.