The theory behind the buzz
Children have an inborn inclination and interest in the natural environment and its elements. It makes them feel comfortable and appeals to the senses as it is our biological home; we have an organic connection to nature that we often underestimate (Pelo, 2008).
It has been shown in multiple studies over the last decade that natural settings enhance cognitive abilities, in particular executive functioning. For children and young people it has been shown that exposure to natural elements leads to an increase in attention span and focus, creative thought processes, problem solving abilities, self-discipline and self-regulation as well as reduced stress levels and increased physical and emotional health (Driessnack, 2009).
One of the biggest problems of today is concerned with children perceiving themselves as separate from nature. Nature is the dirty, scary thing somewhere out there – no relation at all to their own lives of school, homework and TV.
Children need to be able to connect more with nature; studies say it is a necessity for general well-being. The first step towards this is the incorporation of natural elements into their everyday lives; a connection between the scary nature out there and the structural safety of the school playgrounds and parks that they are used to (Dore, 2010).
Dore, B. (2010, September 13). Nature helps children learn faster. Hindustan Times. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Driessnack, M. (2009), Children and Nature-Deficit Disorder. Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing, 14: 73–75.
Pelo, A. (2008). Rethinking Early Childhood Education. Rethinking Schools, Ltd. Milwaukee, WI.