Children and Nature: 5 Reasons to Spend Time Outdoors
Spending time with Mother Nature is good for our physical and mental health. This is also true for babies and children. Research shows spending time outdoors can provide physical, mental, and emotional benefits to children.
Spending time with nature can also help children develop an appreciation for the environment and better understand their role in respecting and caring for the planet.
Benefits of Spending Time Outside
Here are 5 reasons spending time in nature is beneficial to children.
Reason #1: Improves mental and emotional health
Did you know playing in dirt has been shown to reduce anxiety in children? Spending time outside with nature can help improve the mental and emotional health of children. Being exposed to sun and fresh air can improve their moods, help them have better focus, and reduce stress. Taking a short daily walk outside can do wonders for both adults and kids!
Reason #2: Improves physical health
We hear so much about the importance of sunscreen, we sometimes forget that sun exposure is necessary for good health. We need to be exposed to the sun so our bodies make vitamin D. Vitamin D supports bone development and immune health. Sunlight can also enhance sleep quality and improve our mood. In short, humans need daily sun exposure to perform at our best.
Another physical health benefit is that the outdoors is a great place for physical activity and exercise. Children should be active for at least an hour each day. Playing or exercising outside is a perfect way for kids to get their daily dose of sunshine while being active.
Reason #3: Inspires interest in caring for the environment
Introducing the outdoors to our children when they’re young can help nurture an appreciation for their environment. Being in nature and experiencing everything it has to offer can help children better understand how their actions may impact the natural world around them. This is important for teaching children their place in the world and their responsibilities in protecting the environment and preventing harm. For example, visiting a river is a good lesson on the habitat of fish as well as where we get our drinking water. Project Learning Tree is a great resource for youth environmental education.
Reason #4: Enhances social development
Spending time outside supports the development of independence, creativity, and confidence, as well as problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. Strengthening social and personal skills can help improve a child’s overall academic performance.
Reason #5: Supports healthy risk-taking
To support healthy development, children need to take some risks. Overprotecting children and not allowing them to take any risks may negatively impact their confidence, courage, and resilience. Encourage your children to challenge themselves and stretch their limits when playing outside. This might mean going down that long intimidating slide or climbing a structure that looks a little too high. Be there to support them (physically and emotionally) to help them gain confidence.
Kid-Friendly Outdoor Activities
You can enjoy the great outdoors with your kids in many ways. Fun outdoor activities to consider with children include:
- Growing a garden in your backyard
- Visiting a local berry farm or apple orchard to pick fruit
- Hiking in a forest
- Visiting a local park
- Visiting a botanical garden or arboretum
- Riding a bike or scooter outside or on a local greenway
- Throwing or kicking a ball back and forth at the park
GET MORE IDEAS: Project Learning Tree’s activities to do with children outdoors
Expose Children to Nature Early and Often
Introducing children to nature early in their lives and frequently exposing them to the outdoors is not only beneficial for their physical and mental health, their social and cognitive development, and their academic performance, it also benefits the environment. The more people understand their role in protecting our planet, the better off we all will be.
Support Companies that Support the Environment
Many companies understand the importance of protecting the planet, including Nice-Pak Products, the parent company of Nice ’N CLEAN® Wipes. Nice-Pak is taking its commitment to sustainability to a new level by partnering with American Forests and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s flagship education program, Project Learning Tree.
The collaboration includes planting 150,000 trees across the U.S. over three years, creating the potential to capture 92,000 metric tons of carbon over their lifespan. On the education front, Project Learning Tree will develop and implement a digital curriculum focused on the connection between healthy forests and human health to reach over 25,000 K-12 students over the next three years.
When companies and people join forces to support and protect the environment, it benefits us all.
READ: Supporting Sustainable Companies: How to Help Protect the Planet