Nav: Home

Mother nature and child development

February 14, 2020

A world first review of the importance of nature play could transform children's play spaces, supporting investment in city and urban parks, while also delivering important opportunities for children's physical, social and emotional development.

Conducted by the University of South Australia the systematic review explored the impacts of nature play on the health and development of children aged 2-12 years, finding that nature play improved children's complex thinking skills, social skills and creativity.

Led by UniSA masters student Kylie Dankiw and researcher Associate Professor Katherine Baldock, this study is the first to provide evidence that supports the development of innovative nature play spaces in childcare centres and schools.

"In recent years, nature play has become more popular with schools and childcare centres, with many of them re-developing play spaces to incorporate natural elements, such as trees, plants and rocks. But as they transition from the traditional 'plastic fantastic' playgrounds to novel nature-based play spaces, they're also looking for empirical evidence that supports their investments," Dankiw says.

"Our research is the first to rigorously, transparently and systematically review the body of work on nature play and show the impact it has on children's development. We're pleased to say that the findings indicate a positive connection between nature play and children's development.

"For early childhood educators, health practitioners, policymakers and play space designers, this is valuable information that may influence urban play environments and re-green city scapes."

Comprising a systematic review of 2927 peer-reviewed articles, the research consolidated 16 studies that involved unstructured, free play in nature (forest, green spaces, outdoors, gardens) and included natural elements (highly vegetated, rocks, mud, sand, gardens, forests, ponds and water) to determine the impact of nature play on children's health and development.

It found that nature play improved children's levels of physical activity, health-related fitness, motor skills, learning, and social and emotional development. It also showed that nature play may deliver improvements in cognitive and learning outcomes, including children's levels of attention and concentration, punctuality, settling in class (even after play), constructive play, social play, as well as imaginative and functional play.

"Nature play is all about playing freely with and in nature. It's about making mud pies, creating stick forts, having an outdoor adventure, and getting dirty," Dankiw says.

"These are all things that children love to do, but unfortunately, as society has become more sedentary, risk averse and time-poor, fewer children are having these opportunities.

"By playing in nature, children can build their physical capabilities - their balance, fitness, and strength. And, as they play with others, they learn valuable negotiation skills, concepts of sharing and friendships, which may contribute to healthy emotional and social resilience."
-end-
UniSA Media contact: Annabel Mansfield office (08) 8302 0351 mobile 0417 717 504
email Annabel.Mansfield@unisa.edu.au

Researcher: Kylie Dankiw office (08) 8302 1254 email: Kylie.Dankiw@unisa.edu.au

University of South Australia

Related Learning Articles:

How expectations influence learning
During learning, the brain is a prediction engine that continually makes theories about our environment and accurately registers whether an assumption is true or not.
Technology in higher education: learning with it instead of from it
Technology has shifted the way that professors teach students in higher education.
Learning is optimized when we fail 15% of the time
If you're always scoring 100%, you're probably not learning anything new.
School spending cuts triggered by great recession linked to sizable learning losses for learning losses for students in hardest hit areas
Substantial school spending cuts triggered by the Great Recession were associated with sizable losses in academic achievement for students living in counties most affected by the economic downturn, according to a new study published today in AERA Open, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association.
Lessons in learning
A new Harvard study shows that, though students felt like they learned more from traditional lectures, they actually learned more when taking part in active learning classrooms.
Learning to look
A team led by JGI scientists has overhauled the perception of inovirus diversity.
Sleep readies synapses for learning
Synapses in the hippocampus are larger and stronger after sleep deprivation, according to new research in mice published in JNeurosci.
Learning from experience is all in the timing
Animals learn the hard way which sights, sounds, and smells are relevant to survival.
Learning language
When it comes to learning a language, the left side of the brain has traditionally been considered the hub of language processing.
When it comes to learning, what's better: The carrot or the stick?
Does the potential to win or lose money influence the confidence one has in one's own decisions?
More Learning News and Learning Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.