Nature Research

Research on the Importance of Being in Nature and Nature Based Play

  • Research is clearly substantiating that an affinity to and love of nature,along with a positive environmental ethic, grow out of children’s regular
    contact with and play in the natural world (Bunting 1985; Chawla 1988;Wilson 1993; Pyle 1993; Chipeniuk 1994; Sobel 1996, 2002 & 2004; Hart 1997; Moore & Wong 1997; Kals et al. 1999; Moore & Cosco 2000; Lianne 2001; Kellert 2002; Bixler et al. 2002; Kals & Ittner 2003; Phenice & Griffore 2003; Schultz et al. 2004).
  • Children with symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are better able to concentrate after contact with nature (Faber Taylor et al. 2001).
  • Children with views of and contact with nature score higher on tests of concentration and self-discipline. The greener, the better the scores (Faber Taylor et al. 2002, Wells 2000).
  • Children who play regularly in natural environments show more advanced motor fitness, including coordination, balance and agility, and they are sick less often (Fjortoft 2001, Grahn et al. 1997).
  • When children play in natural environments, their play is more diverse with imaginative and creative play that fosters language and collaborative skills (Faber Taylor et al. 1998, Fjortoft 2000, Moore & Wong 1997).
  • Exposure to natural environments improves children’s cognitive development by improving their awareness, reasoning and observational skills (Pyle 2002).
  • Nature buffers the impact of life stress on children and helps them deal with adversity. The greater the amount of nature exposure, the greater the benefits (Wells 2003).
  • Play in a diverse natural environment reduces or eliminates anti-social behavior such as violence, bullying, vandalism and littering, as well reduces absenteeism (Coffey 2001, Malone & Tranter 2003, Moore & Cosco 2000).
  • Nature helps children develop powers of observation and creativity and instills a sense of peace and being at one with the world (Crain 2001).
  • Early experiences with the natural world have been positively linked with the development of imagination and the sense of wonder (Cobb 1977, Louv 1991). Wonder is an important motivator for life long learning (Wilson 1997).
  • Children who play in nature have more positive feelings about each other (Moore 1996).
  • A decrease in children’s time spent outdoors is contributing to an increase of children’s myopia (Nowak 2004).
  • Natural environments stimulate social interaction between children (Moore 1986, Bixler, Floyd & Hammutt 2002).
  • Outdoor environments are important to children’s development of independence and autonomy(Bartlett 1996).
  • Children’s emotional and affective values of nature develop earlier than their abstract, logical and rational perspectives (Kellert 2002). We need to allow children to develop their biophilia, their love for the Earth, before we ask them to save it. Rather then books and lectures, nature itself is children’s best teacher (Coffey 2001). Young children tend to develop emotional attachments to what is familiar and comfortable for them (Wilson 1996). The more personal children’s experience with nature, the more environmentally concerned and active children are likely to become (Bunting & Cousins 1985, Harvey 1989).
  • Nature alleviates the impact of life stress on children and helps them deal with adversity. The greater the amount of nature exposure, the greater the benefits. Wells, Nancy M. & Evans, Gary W. (2003). Nearby nature: A buffer of life stress among rural children. Environment and Behavior, 35(3), 311-330
  • Almon explains that people freely admit they are afraid of accidents in play and want to minimize risk. Yet playgrounds that offer genuine risk tend to have fewer accidents than traditional playgrounds. “Give children real risk and they rise to it; they learn how to handle it. Give them sanitized play spaces, and children often are less conscious of risk and have accidents, or take outlandish risks for the sheer excitement of it all.” Almon, Joan. (2009). The fear of play. Exchange, March/April, 42-44
  • When children engage in authentic play in nature-based outdoor spaces, they develop skills in a variety of domains simultaneously Miller, D.L., Tichota, K,.White, J. (2009). Young children Learn Through Authentic Play. Accessed from