Why Children Need to Spend Time in Nature

Nature and the outdoors is a great place for children to achieve their developmental tasks: exploring, risk- taking, gross motor, fine motor, and awareness of themselves within their surroundings. Not to mention the fact that being outside has been shown to improve mood, creativity, helps with focus, and generally lowers stress levels. This has shown to be true to people in general, children and adults alike should try to get outside at least 30 minutes a day. 

Shinrin Yoku (forest bathing) is exactly this, spending time outside in nature. It is practiced in Japanese culture and research has shown health benefits of spending time outside creates calming neuro-psychological effects through changes in the nervous system, reducing the stress hormone cortisol and boosting your immune system. Studies have shown that even 15 minutes in nature can be VERY beneficial. But we don’t need studies to know that being outside makes us feel good. I think every one of us has felt the benefits of just getting outside and breathing some fresh air and soaking in some vitamin D. 


Proves motor Skills: (gross motor and fine motor skill) When a child plays outside they are more apt to find ways to work on balance and agility. They challenge themselves to try new things to get to new places. Climbing on trees, balancing on rocks, jumping off tree stumps, crawling under things, etc. 


Gross Motor: throwing, jumping, running, climbing

Fine motors: collecting sticks, rocks, acorns or leaves, Picking flowers, digging, making mud pies

Social/ Emotional

When children spend time outside they generally feel less overwhelmed. Young children especially can get overwhelmed when being in small spaces with siblings, classmates or friends. Being outside gives them the ability to have more space. This can lead to more opportunities for positive social interaction with others. Being outside can also increase self awareness and children learn to be more aware of their surroundings. They experience cause and effect. 

Something as simple as going down the slides at the playground can teach children to take turns, be aware of the people around them and create their own boundaries. Outdoor play promotes imagination and team work therefore allowing children to interact with each other using and practicing those skills helping them make sense of the world around them. 

Appreciation for Nature 

Studies have shown that individuals who spend time outside as children carry a love of nature into their adulthood and consider the environment a priority. If children see and experience first hand the beauty of nature, plants and animals they will gain an appreciation for the environment around them. 

Seeing the sunset, playing in the sand, watching squirrels play chase, seeing fireflies in the summer nights, climbing trees, etc. All of these experiences become ingrained in them and the memories nurture their appreciation for what nature can offer. Feeling motivation to preserve the space they loved as children and seeing value in it. 

So make it a point to get out there for yourself and for your child. 


Nature Walk Meditation for Children

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Published by Christelle

Former Montessori School Teacher and Child Life Specialist. Specialize in early childhood education.

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