6 ways being outdoors boosts kids’ development
Studies reveal a connection between kids’ well-being and the time they spend in nature.
Here are the top six ways that being outside fosters kids’ social, emotional, cognitive and physical development.
Playing in nature builds problem-solving skills.
When kids engage in unstructured play in nature, they improvise, make decisions, work as a group and learn to resolve conflicts creatively. Those sticks, stones and mud puddles are actually building critical thinking skills and social competence by making kids engage as a community.
Being outdoors reduces stress.
In the United States, 90% of children surveyed reported that being outdoors left them feeling “less stressed.” Kids with reduced stress levels are more resilient and more able to regulate their emotions.
Nature sparks kids’ interest (and boosts marks) in science.
The average Canadian child spends 40 hours per week (more than 5 hours a day!) staring at some kind of electronic screen, yet outdoor science programs that stress hands-on science learning and the connections between the real world and basic science concepts improve students’ overall science testing scores by 27%.
Nature makes kids high-performance learners and high scorers on tests.
The Ontario Ministry of Education provides additional funding for “outdoor education,” recognizing that outdoor learning and physical activity are key to improving a child’s cognitive function, concentration, self-esteem, social skills and mood.
Nature reduces kids’ risk for obesity.
The Government of Canada reports that obesity rates in children and youth have nearly tripled in the last 30 years. To combat obesity, children and teenagers should participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
Nature means sunlight and sunlight means more Vitamin D.
We get Vitamin D from food and from sunlight and it’s key for the absorption of key nutrients, including the calcium and phosphorus that help kids build bones, teeth and immunity. We’re all getting less Vitamin D these days thanks to office jobs, urban living and sunscreen, but getting out in the sunshine naturally supplies the Vitamin D needed to grow a healthy body.