Article

The Benefits of Children's Engagement with Nature: A Systematic Literature Review

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Abstract

This paper sets out the findings of a systematic review of the research literature on the benefits that arise when children under 12 spend time in natural environments. The review also explored the relationship between these benefits and the style of children's engagement with nature. The findings support the view that spending time in nature is part of a “balanced diet” of childhood experiences that promote children's healthy development, well-being and positive environmental attitudes and values. It also points to the value of more playful engagement styles. The findings are relevant to the development of educational and planning policy and practice, and to advocacy work.

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... Several studies have shown the benefits of nature for child development. Nature has been identified as a space that supports physical and mental health, emotional wellbeing, and a better ability to cope with stress (Adams and Savahl, 2017;Gill, 2014). ...
... Many studies have shown that children are physically more active when they are outdoors (Cleland et al., 2008;Dankiw et al., 2020;Gill, 2014;Torkar and Rejc, 2017). Walking over rough terrain, climbing trees, and running around in the natural environment has positive effects on children's motor development, improving gross and fine motor skills and endurance, coordination and balance, and health-related fitness (Fjørtoft, 2004;Santana et al., 2017). ...
... In the natural environment, children feel more autonomy and freedom (Adams and Savahl, 2017;Dankiw et al., 2020;Kuo et al., 2019). Outdoor play and learning have a positive impact on children's self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-perception, as well as on their decision-making and risk-taking (Gill, 2014;O'Brien and Murray, 2007;Sandseter, 2009;). It helps children acquire perseverance, self-efficacy, resilience, teamwork, leadership, and communication skills that are important later in adult life (Kuo et al., 2019). ...
Article
Childhood experiences with nature are decisive for children’s wellbeing. The need for outdoor activities has been duly recognized in the preschool curriculum in Slovenia. However, there are some obstacles to this approach—specifically, tick-borne diseases. This study examines the views and experiences of Slovenian preschool teachers (n = 158) with ticks and tick-borne diseases in order to create a safer environment for the further development of outdoor education. The majority of the respondents engage in outdoor teaching once or several times a week. They have very frequent contact with ticks and tick-borne diseases in their professional lives. More than four-fifths of the respondents carry out some tick-prevention measures in preschools, but room for improvement remains. The respondents report rare cases in which parents or guardians have tried to prohibit them from visiting outdoor areas because of tick-borne diseases, and they explain how they dealt with the situation. The attitude of preschool teachers toward ticks and tick-borne diseases did not correlate significantly with the frequency with which they went outdoors in preschools. This study therefore concludes that, despite the objective risks associated with tick-borne diseases, there is still broad consensus among educators and parents on the importance of outdoor education in the early years.
... Gender, age, level of physical activity and socio-economic status have been identified as potential moderators of associations between green space exposure and perceived mental health, although a systematic review of the literature showed that the evidence for significant effects across studies is inconclusive (van den Berg, Wendel-Vos, van Poppel, Kemper, van Mechelen, & Maas 2015). Childhood nature experience has been shown to predict nature contact in adulthood in some studies (Asah, Bengston, & Westphal., 2012;Pensini, Horn, & Caltabiano, 2016;Rosa, Profice, & Collado, 2018;Thompson, Aspinall, & Montarzino, 2008), and result in long-term benefits that are experienced during both childhood and adulthood (Chawla, 2015;Gill, 2014;Wells & Evans, 2003). Indirect benefits arise when childhood nature experiences enhance an individual's capacity to benefit from nature contact as an adult, by causing the adult to be more likely to engage in activities that promote nature contact (Gill, 2014). ...
... Childhood nature experience has been shown to predict nature contact in adulthood in some studies (Asah, Bengston, & Westphal., 2012;Pensini, Horn, & Caltabiano, 2016;Rosa, Profice, & Collado, 2018;Thompson, Aspinall, & Montarzino, 2008), and result in long-term benefits that are experienced during both childhood and adulthood (Chawla, 2015;Gill, 2014;Wells & Evans, 2003). Indirect benefits arise when childhood nature experiences enhance an individual's capacity to benefit from nature contact as an adult, by causing the adult to be more likely to engage in activities that promote nature contact (Gill, 2014). An indirect effect of childhood nature exposure on adult mental well-being via adult current nature exposure was found by Pensini et al. (2016) in Australian adults, as well as an indirect effect of childhood nature contact on connectedness to nature and ecological behavior. ...
... There is some evidence of a positive association between the extent/ type of childhood experience of nature and the way the natural world is viewed in childhood and adulthood, which influences engagement in pro-environmental behaviors and awareness of environmental issues (reviewed in Chawla, 2020;Cheng & Munro, 2012;Gill, 2014;Rosa et al., 2018;Wells & Lekies, 2006;Windhorst & Williams, 2015). A positive attitude towards co-existence with wild animals among urban residents in Japan was more influenced by childhood experience with nature than socio-demographic variables: attitudes became more positive through increased interactions with wild animals and plants (Hosaka, Sugimoto, & Numata, 2017). ...
Article
Nature exposure during childhood is thought to foster habits and preferences leading to greater nature exposure in adult life, thus providing an indirect route to increased mental and physical well-being, and greater engagement in pro-environmental behaviors (PEB). We explored the relationships between childhood nature experience (CNE) and time spent in nature, landscape preferences, biodiversity exposure, nature connection and willingness to engage in PEB as adults, using two data sets. Adults sampled in three New Zealand cities showed no significant association between CNE and time spent by adults in public and private green and blue spaces, nor with biodiversity exposure, as those with higher CNE scores did not select more biodiverse spaces to visit as adults. There were positive but weak associations between both age and the Nature Relatedness score, and nature contact. A second survey of young adults aged mostly between 18 and 25 years found only a weak association between CNE and willingness to engage in PEB, and similarly weak positive associations with scores representing participants' awareness of the term “biodiversity” and strategies to improve biodiversity, the degree to which they valued biodiversity and urban green spaces, and their belief in the wellbeing benefits of nature for people. Time spent in nature during childhood was not a good predictor of time adults spent in natural spaces, landscape preferences or likelihood of PEB, suggesting that even where there is a deficit of childhood experiences adults can positively engage with nature in green and blue spaces.
... Segundo Gill (2014), e de acordo com os resultados da revisão sistemática de estudos com forte suporte ético e metodológico sobre os benefícios do contacto com a natureza, as crianças que usufruem de um contacto considerável com a natureza demonstram níveis mais elevados de atividade física, de saúde mental e regulação emocional, conhecimentos mais vastos sobre a natureza e hábitos alimentares mais saudáveis, apresentando na idade adulta atitudes e sentimentos pró-natureza e um forte sentido de pertença. O seu trabalho identifica, ainda, que os estudos promovidos no âmbito dos nature/forest kindergartens revelam uma associação entre a sua frequência e o desenvolvimento de competências sociais, autocontrolo e autoconsciência das crianças (Gill, 2014). ...
... Segundo Gill (2014), e de acordo com os resultados da revisão sistemática de estudos com forte suporte ético e metodológico sobre os benefícios do contacto com a natureza, as crianças que usufruem de um contacto considerável com a natureza demonstram níveis mais elevados de atividade física, de saúde mental e regulação emocional, conhecimentos mais vastos sobre a natureza e hábitos alimentares mais saudáveis, apresentando na idade adulta atitudes e sentimentos pró-natureza e um forte sentido de pertença. O seu trabalho identifica, ainda, que os estudos promovidos no âmbito dos nature/forest kindergartens revelam uma associação entre a sua frequência e o desenvolvimento de competências sociais, autocontrolo e autoconsciência das crianças (Gill, 2014). Ainda segundo este autor, é urgente e imperativo o desenvolvimento de iniciativas preventivas que envolvam experiências/vivências da iniciativa da criança com a natureza de modo sistemático e prolongado, em idade precoce, como o projeto aqui apresentado -Projeto Limites Invisíveis (LI). ...
... Ainda em relação aos benefícios do brincar na natureza, Gill (2014) classificou o estilo de envolvimento das crianças com a natureza em duas categorias -"more playful styles" e "less playful styles"-, em que a primeira inclui situações de brincar livre, lazer e atividades da livre iniciativa da criança, e a segunda atividades planeadas/orientadas pelos adultos e passeios/visitas guiados. Os resultados obtidos evidenciam uma associação entre situações de "more playful styles" e benefícios na saúde das crianças e atitudes positivas em relação ao ambiente. ...
Article
A transição da Educação Pré-Escolar (EPE) para o 1.o Ciclo do Ensino Básico (1.o CEB) pode ser bem-sucedida se a criança vivenciar esta experiência com sentimentos de segurança, satisfação e conforto, permitindo-lhe um ajustamento à nova situação educativa. Para tal, é necessário minimizar possíveis efeitos adversos através de estratégias facilitadoras da transição e da continuidade educativa. Com o presente estudo pretende-se compreender dimensões do processo de transição de um grupo de 119 crianças (EPE N=74 e 1.oCEB N=45), através da caraterização do desenvolvimento socioemocional das crianças, identificação dos sentimentos, competências e dificuldades das mesmas, aquando da transição, e quais as estratégias facilitadoras da transição promovidas num Agrupamento de Escolas (AE) do distrito de Aveiro, Portugal. O estudo envolveu, para além das crianças, 73 pais/Encarregados de Educação (EE) e 14 docentes dos dois níveis educativos (EPE e 1.o CEB). A recolha de dados englobou métodos qualitativos -entrevistas semiestruturadas às crianças- e quantitativos -Questionário de Capacidades e Dificuldades (SDQ) a pais/EE e docentes. A análise dos dados consistiu em análise de conteúdo e análise descritiva e inferencial não paramétrica com recurso aos softwares WebQDA e SPSS-versão 25, respetivamente. Os resultados indicam que as crianças sentem felicidade e satisfação no processo de transição, mas também ansiedade. Quanto ao desenvolvimento socioemocional, na perceção dos pais/EE e docentes, as crianças do 1.o CEB apresentam mais dificuldades do que as crianças da EPE, que apresentam mais competências. O AE promove algumas estratégias facilitadoras da transição, mas pouco consistentes, na promoção do desenvolvimento socioemocional das crianças.
... In recent years, researchers have examined children's active engagement with nature from leisure and pedagogical perspectives. Two systematic reviews document numerous benefits of children's engagement with nature, such as improved physical and psychological health, autonomy, and independence (Adams & Savahl, 2017;Gill, 2014). An integrative review has summarised knowledge of the relationship between nature experiences and possibilities for learning and personal development among children. ...
... Also, the amount of time spent outdoors during kindergarten seems to have a positive impact on the development of attention skills and protect against inattention-hyperactive symptoms (Ulset et al., 2017). Furthermore, a lack of regular contact with nature is likely to lead to fear, discomfort, and a dislike of the environment (Gill, 2014). ...
... Through these processes, inclusion and participation are facilitated and intergenerational practices (Mannion, 2007) are stimulated. The positive benefits from engagement with nature described in this study are supported by results from several studies, indicating, among others, social, physical, and cognitive developmental benefits, and increased experiences of autonomy and independence (Adams & Savahl, 2017;Fjørtoft, 2004;Gill, 2014;Kuo et al., 2019;Ulset et al., 2017). ...
Article
Full-text available
Children’s right to participate has become internationally recognised and the early years are a pivotal phase for realising children’s rights. Knowledge of how young children can enact their right to participation in different environmental and educational contexts is important for improving and facilitating pedagogical practices around the world. The use of the natural environment for educational purposes has become increasingly popular in the Nordic countries, the UK, Australia and in the United States. In this article, we explore how children and staff experience children’s participation through play and everyday life in kindergartens that organise most of the days outside. In Norway they are referred to as nature kindergartens. The primary data sources are focus group interviews with 30 children and 20 staff members from six nature kindergartens in Norway. The results show that the open and fluid character of nature creates a dynamic space for children’s play, stimulates creativity and social inclusion, promotes responsibility, and facilitates generational interdependency. Staff promote and participate in children’s initiatives but refrain from introducing and controlling activities. We conclude that the environmental and educational contexts in nature-kindergartens offer a range of participative situations while questioning whether all children have the capabilities for required active engagement.
... As the connection to nature from a very young age is important (Klein, Türk, & Roth, 2018), it has been observed that the implementation of nature-based activities in schools is augmented (UNESCO, 2021) as an answer to the problem of children's disconnection from nature (Gill, 2014) caused by the modern and sedentary lifestyle (Roberts, Hinds, & Camic, 2020). ...
... Physical activity, generally, can affect children's health in many ways, even if it is of moderate-intensity (Janssen & Leblanc, 2015). In a systematic literature review on the benefits of spending time in natural environments for children until twelve years old, Gill (2014) found that nature-based experiences help children on their healthy development and well-being, as well as on cultivating environment-friendly values and attitudes. Muñoz (2009), also, observed that there are plenty of benefits for physical health and general well-being when spending time outdoors. ...
Chapter
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Approaches of ecotherapy are very beneficial for children's health and, for this reason, school-based versions have been implemented to promote it. Preschool and elementary teachers are an essential element for the successful implementation of nature-based activities in school. However, research on their perceptions of such initiatives is scarce. Thus, the purpose of this article is to present current research in this field. The studies showed that teachers acknowledge the benefits of ecotherapy approaches implementation on students' physical and mental health, but they indicate several practical issues.
... The United Nations Children's Fund's (UNICEF) Child-Friendly Cities Initiative highlights the importance of children's participation in the planning of cities (UNICEF, 2017). Including children's voices in urban planning can benefit the children themselves and help create cities that meet the needs of everyone (Gill, 2014). Additionally, children can also play an important role as transformers in urban planning, which could promote sustainable development (Nordström and Wales, 2019). ...
... Secondly, children's prosocial behavior, as well as intellectual, social-emotional and cognitive capacities can be developed when interacting with plants and animals (Putra et al., 2020). Lastly, regular contact with nature during childhood encourages environmentally responsible behavior and can lead to positive environmental attitudes and values during adulthood (Kaiser et al., 1999;Wells and Lekies, 2006;Damerell et al., 2013;Gill, 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
One of the important features of cities is to provide high-quality outdoor environments for various groups of citizens. Although children are frequent users of green spaces, the knowledge and perspectives applied in planning and design of urban green spaces are mostly defined by adults. This results in spaces and practices that may limit the daily lives and creativity of urban children. Promoting child-friendly cities benefits from knowledge produced by children themselves, regarding their perceptions and experiences, as well as ideas and suggestions. This study provides empirical results concerning children’s needs and mental images for urban green spaces in two urban areas in two countries (Chengdu, China, and Ruhr Region, Germany). 765 children, ages 8 to 10 were surveyed through the method of empathy-based stories (MEBS). Participants were asked to use their imagination to write stories according to given scenarios. Our study shows that MEBS can be used to gather meaningful data with children, and that children are an important stakeholder group in urban planning, landscape design and management with an ability to express their diverse needs and preferences towards green spaces. Both designed green spaces (e.g. gardens, parks) and wild nature (e.g. forests, meadows) can offer a range of activities and experiences for children in their everyday lives: opportunities for play, socializing, contact with nature, aesthetic and restorative experiences, learning and exploration. Our findings include indications of children’s awareness of the diverse ecosystem services that green spaces provide, as well as of urban sustainability and livability. While we found German and Chinese children to have corresponding needs and expectations regarding urban green spaces and nature, we also found some variation. We suggest that the use of, and experiences in green spaces are linked not only to the landscape but also to conceptual-cultural contexts.
... The main difficulties are the lack of opportunity for contact with nature [3] and risk aversion that inhibits risk-taking during play [4,5]. Contact with nature has been identified as having both short-and long-term positive impacts on health and wellbeing [6][7][8]. Education in nature is widely recognised as having benefits for teaching that cannot be achieved in a traditional indoor classroom [9]. This century has seen an increasing recognition of the role of early childhood teachers in both education in nature [10] and education for sustainability [11]. ...
... Students were asked to indicate their preferred age/grade for future teaching. Preschool and K-1 were the most popular with 89 each, followed by Infants/Toddlers (48), Grades 2-3 (38), Grades 4-6 (24), Early Childhood Special Education (8). At the point of participating in this study, the preservice teachers had completed two courses relevant to outdoor play in nature. ...
Article
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Understanding preservice early childhood teachers’ perspectives on education in nature is important in the context of risk aversion and the future of education for sustainability. In the present study, 296 early childhood preservice teachers examined 16 photographs of outdoor areas from four categories: park with fence, park without fence, grassy area, forest. They the selected photographs depicting areas they most preferred and least preferred. They then selected photographs depicting areas the considered most or least conduciveness to education. The participants also completed a series of questions related to their beliefs about education in nature ant the benefits for child development and health. There were clear associations between the areas participants preferred and those they considered educationally conducive. Likewise, there were associations between areas participants least preferred and their ratings of least conducive. The belief that nature experiences belong within school settings was the strongest predictor of perceived educational and developmental benefits. The findings suggest more opportunity to spend time in a range of natural environments and a belief in the importance of nature experiences should be emphasised in early childhood preservice teacher training.
... Students become more relaxed when learning or playing spontaneously, which leads to better attention, more motivation and faster perception (promotion of a higher level of knowledge), thus improving student success and performance (Fiskum & Jacobsen, 2012). Some researchers (Gill, 2014;Mygind, 2009;Rickinson et al., 2004;Sjöblom & Svens, 2019;Waite, 2010) report that students are more relaxed when playing, resulting in group trust, connection, and participation. Children are dynamic while learning outdoors, constantly changing the environment they explore to satisfy their curiosity (Tovey, 2008). ...
... It was found that the project teachers had more ideas for outdoor lesson activities and that they found learning with all of the senses more effective because the students were enthusiastic about the unusual space during outdoor learning. Policymakers designing curricula must also consider the initiatives of teachers and students in order to provide them with a more focused, playful and natural environment (Gill, 2014). The European Social Fund allows EU Member States to receive funding for such initiatives, so many updates and adaptions in outdoor education are expected (Skribe Dimec & Kokalj, 2018). ...
Preprint
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The present paper presents the results of a survey on outdoor lessons conducted by teachers of the subject Science and Technology in the 4 th and 5 th grades of primary school in the school's vicinity. It examines differences between teachers themselves and between teachers and students, as well as the ideas and limitations of outdoor lessons. The study included 70 in-service primary school teachers of the 4 th and 5 th grades and 154 students of the 4 th grade and 151 students of the 5 th grade of primary school. The data were obtained with two questionnaires: an e-questionnaire for teachers and a paper-pencil questionnaire for students. The results show that 13 per cent of teaching time in the subject Science and Technology consists of outdoor lessons. Statistically significant differences were found between teachers with different amounts of teaching experience, while differences in the quantity of outdoor lessons did not arise among teachers of different school strata and among teachers who had an early experience with outdoor lessons in the vicinity of school themselves as students compared to teachers who had no such experience. The teachers had several specific and general ideas for outdoor activities for the thematic sets of the Science and Technology curriculum and reported similar difficulties in planning outdoor lessons to those reported in other countries. The results of the research show that the teachers report the use of outdoor lessons in the vicinity of school more often than recalled by the students. The students reported that such activities typically take place about twice a year, mostly in playgrounds, meadows, and forests. The results provide an insight into the state of the teachers' initiatives for outdoor lessons in the subject Science and Technology and indirectly offer opportunities to reflect and act on outdoor lessons from different perspectives.
... It is increasingly recognised that play, including imaginary play, creative play, social play and outdoor play, offers a range of benefits for children's physical and mental health [1]. Outdoor play, and play in nature in particular, is associated with a range of health benefits [2] including increased physical activity [3] and emotional wellbeing [4,5]. Outdoor play also facilitates children's opportunities to play in an adventurous way, exploring age-appropriate risks and uncertainty, which is theorised to prevent fears [6] and anxiety [7] in children. ...
... We exceeded this minimum requirement to ensure that adequate power was maintained even when missing data were considered. 1 Some data are missing on this variable as participants chose not to provide this information. 2 The Market Research Society uses a demographic classification of social grade, which classifies families on the basis of the occupation of the head of the household. Social grade is typically used as a binary variable that categorises families as being either middle class or working class. ...
Article
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The British Children’s Play Survey was conducted in April 2020 with a nationally representative sample of 1919 parents/caregivers with a child aged 5–11 years. Respondents completed a range of measures focused on children’s play, independent mobility and adult tolerance of and attitudes towards risk in play. The results show that, averaged across the year, children play for around 3 h per day, with around half of children’s play happening outdoors. Away from home, the most common places for children to play are playgrounds and green spaces. The most adventurous places for play were green spaces and indoor play centres. A significant difference was found between the age that children were reported to be allowed out alone (10.74 years; SD = 2.20 years) and the age that their parents/caregivers reported they had been allowed out alone (8.91 years; SD = 2.31 years). A range of socio-demographic factors were associated with children’s play. There was little evidence that geographical location predicted children’s play, but it was more important for independent mobility. Further, when parents/caregivers had more positive attitudes around children’s risk-taking in play, children spent more time playing and were allowed to be out of the house independently at a younger age.
... Research in the field of wellbeing has recognised the influence of natural environments in enhancing people's perceptions and feelings of physiological, emotional, psychological and spiritual wellbeing (Brymer et al., 2010;Burls, 2007;Herzog & Strevey, 2008;Maller et al., 2006;Pryor et al., 2006). Experience in the natural environment has emerged as a significant factor that impacts upon varying domains of young peoples' wellbeing and increased engagement with the environment has been associated with a range of cognitive, physical and affective benefits (Adams & Savahl, 2016;Gill, 2014;Kellert, 2005). ...
... Natural environments were also mentioned by the participants as spaces that were calm, relaxing and peaceful leading to feelings of safety and security. Many studies have highlighted the important role that nature connection and time spent in nature plays in the development of wellbeing in people across all ages (Pritchard et al., 2020;Gill, 2014;White, et al., 2019), however for some participants, experiences in nature can lead to negative feelings such as being moody or worrying about bugs and insects. As discussed by and highlighted in chapter 2, not all nature experiences can be considered as restorative and positive for people, as a range of influences shape people's experiences in these environments. ...
Thesis
This thesis explores the role that curriculum-based environmental education plays in influencing young peoples' wellbeing. It adopts a social constructivist approach to understand how wellbeing is understood, articulated and experienced by young people in residential learning environments. The thesis argues that positivistic and adult-centred accounts of wellbeing have restricted our appreciation of the diverse ways in which young people engage with and recognise their emotions in educational settings. In adopting an alternative framework, the thesis argues for experiential and subjective understandings of wellbeing to be developed through a range of methodological tools. The research sought to develop these ideas by focusing on the experiences of students visiting the Field Studies Centre at Slapton Ley (Devon, UK) and utilised focus groups and solicited participant diaries, providing a basis for phenomenological inquiry that enabled a direct engagement with young people participating in environmental education programmes. The empirical research focused on the experiences of young people between the ages of 14 and 18 years on a residential, curriculum-based environmental education programme and examined the role and potential of environmental education for supporting the wellbeing of young people. From an initial thematic analysis of the data five elements were identified as key to the participants' wellbeing: wellbeing as multidimensional, social elements, psychological elements, physical health and environmental elements. These elements were then used to provide a framing for understanding young peoples' experiences of wellbeing throughout the lived experience of curriculum-based environmental education and, as a result, the research yielded three themes that provide an understanding of the key experiences of environmental education and its connection to wellbeing: experiences of place, experiences of people, and the learning experience. Using these themes and the participants' conceptualisations of wellbeing, the research then iii explored how strategies can be developed within environmental education to promote the wellbeing of young people and reveals the importance of fostering feelings of restoration, increasing social bonds and developing a sense of achievement and accomplishment. Consequently, this research contributes to the fields of environmental education and health and wellbeing research within a geographical context through demonstrating the importance of qualitative approaches in revealing the ways young people articulate their emotions in educational settings. Alongside this, it challenges assumptions about the way nature is utilised in wellbeing interventions, highlighting the role that social and cultural backgrounds can play in the way nature is experienced by different groups and how this can be addressed within environmental education. Therefore, a key contribution of this research is in providing an empirical analysis for the relationship between environmental education and wellbeing, and how to best design environmental education programmes that meet the needs of young people.
... Although there seems to be a consensus on the effectiveness of field trips among researchers who have worked on this topic (Dillon et al., 2006;Gill, 2014), it should be noted that a number of barriers to implementing a field trip have been identified in several studies (Dyment, 2005;Lock, 2010;Michie, 1998;Rickinson et al., 2004;Scott et al., 2015). The most noted barriers that can hinder field trips are cost (especially transport), the time needed for preparation and organisation, and administrative procedures and class sizes. ...
... Some authors have found that learning experiences outside the classroom are more effective in developing cognitive skills (Eaton, 1998;Fägerstam & Blom, 2013;Orion, 1993). For example, in a literature review, Gill (2014) found that children who participated in school gardening projects improved their science learning more than those who did not. Farmer et al. (2007) suggested that positive effects may be related to students' longlasting memories of authentic outdoor experiences. ...
Article
We explored the use of field trips for educational and teaching purposes by French kindergarten, primary-school teachers and natural science teachers in secondary schools. More specifically, we studied field trips in a natural environment by undertaking a French curriculum analysis and surveying teachers. We examined the responses of 511 teachers about their practices and motivations, as well as the levers and barriers to implementing these field trips. Results showed that this practice is widespread at all years of education, and differences between years seem to be related to the curriculum. We found few differences in learning motivations (reasons/objectives and interests/specific feature) and perceived barriers between different school teachers. Indeed, the teachers’ motivations are essentially scientific and rooted in a scientific inquiry approach. Studying ‘on real’ was the interest most often cited by teachers, essentially for the purpose of scientific learning. The only notable difference we found concerns the levers for implementing the field trips: a larger proportion of kindergarten and primary-school teachers see field trips as an ideal support for environmental and sustainable development educations. These results are dependant of the French official curriculum which plays a key role in influencing the current implementation of school-organised field trips by the teachers.
... All this is in addition to trying to buy products produced in zero-mile of proximity. (director) This connection with nature helps to improve students both physically and emotionally (Gill, 2014). In addition to the positive effects on health, a healthy diet and nature-based learning contribute to addressing the growing problems in developed societies, which are linked to hyperactivity, attention-deficit and 'Nature-Deficit Disorder', among others (Louv, 2005). ...
Article
This paper explores the innovative socio-educational experience of Huerto Alegre (Spain), linking it to a critical perspective of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Going beyond the ‘pluralist practices’ associated with the ESD, our case study seeks to redefine ESD from a critical and ecocentric perspective within the context of the Earth Charter (EC). Huerto Alegre’s social-educational programme is aimed at children and young people with the objective of creating critical thinking and fostering connections between school and the natural environment by working collaboratively with teaching professionals. The methodology of the paper focuses on a content analysis of the centre’s key documents and on the narratives of students, in addition to an in-depth interview with its director. It also presents a critical reconstruction of the subject. This complements, and gives meaning to, the theoretical debates surrounding ESD — debates that call for structural changes to our current model of society.
... Moreover, another review by Tillmann et al. [2] found that interacting with nature was related to increased overall mental health, improvements in symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD), reduced stress, higher resilience, and improved health-related quality of life among children and adolescents younger than 18 years. In terms of physical health outcomes, exposure to green spaces has been linked with lower blood-pressure [3], longer sleep [4], improvement in motor fitness [5], and a lower prevalence of overweight/obesity and sedentary behavior [6] 2 of 12 among children. In addition, the time children spend outdoors has been found to be more strongly related to physical activity than time spent indoors [7]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Regular access to green space has been shown to provide several health benefits for children. However, children today spend less time outdoors. Thus, it has become important to understand what drives and limits children’s activities in nature. Based on a Finnish online survey of 1463 parents of children aged 2–7 conducted in 2019, the current study examined parents’ perceived barriers to visiting nature with their children. It also examined how parental mental well-being is related to families’ frequency of nature visits, and whether this association is mediated by different categories of parents’ perceived barriers. Eleven out of 12 barriers were largely perceived by parents as reasons that did not prevent them from visiting nature with their children. Next, factor analysis indicated a three-factor solution to the barriers. The results of a multiple mediation analysis showed that better parental mental well-being was associated with more frequent adult-child nature visits, and this relationship was partially mediated by a “lack of competence and logistics” and a “lack of time and interest”, but not by “insecurity and fear”. The results indicated that parents with poor mental well-being were more likely to perceive barriers to visiting nature, which in turn appeared to be related to a higher likelihood of having children who visited nature less frequently.
... It provides unique possibilities for the spontaneous observation and exploration of odours, materials, textures and shapes. Research examining the health and educational benefits of children's contact with nature indicates that natural outdoor environments present significant benefits for children's cognitive and emotional development (Chawla, 2015;Gill, 2014;Maller & Townsend, 2006). Outdoor schooling and educational programs, such as forest schools and garden-based childcare facilities, are rapidly increasing in popularity in western societies, offering young children hands-on opportunities to learn through closer contact with naturalistic entities (Meyer, Müller, & Macoun, 2017). ...
Article
Plants provide unique opportunities for learning by engaging all human senses. Recent laboratory studies have shown that infants use a combination of behavioural avoidance and social learning strategies to safely learn about plant properties from adults. Here we investigate how infants and their caregivers interact with plants in an outdoor garden as a first step toward examining how these social learning processes work in naturalistic settings. We focus on two specific aspects of spontaneous infant-caregiver interactions with plants: olfactory and touch behaviours. Additionally, we test whether infants' and caregivers’ prior knowledge of the plants in our study influences infants’ behaviour. Our results showed a multifaceted connection between infants’ and caregivers' previous experience with the plants and their olfactory and touch behaviours. First, whether infants touched the plants before or after their caregiver did appear to be independent of whether infants had seen the plant before. Although, in general, infants tended to touch and smell the plants after their caregivers did. Second, infants systematically engaged in some of the same types of olfactory and touch behaviours their caregiver displayed toward plants. Finally, infants whose caregivers were given more information about the plants in the study showed fewer touch behaviours, but no difference in olfactory behaviours. These findings bolster the previous laboratory studies of plant learning early in life, highlight the importance of olfactory behaviours, and underscore the benefits of using naturalistic observations to explore unique aspects of development.
... Very little is known about the outdoor experiences of babies (aged 0-12 months) and toddlers (aged 13-24 months) attending Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) despite the growing significance of formal care for under twos. There is welldocumented global concern about children's lack of engagement with the outdoors and a growing consensus that schools and settings have a role to play in facilitating connections with the natural environment (Gill 2014). There is also a growing body of international research evidence that points to the benefits of learning in outdoor and natural environments (Malone and Waite 2016). ...
Article
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This paper reports the findings of a narrative review of international research literature about babies’ and toddlers’ engagement with the outdoor environment whilst attending ECEC (Early Childhood Education and Care) settings. Based on the in-depth review of 21 papers, it identifies four dominant themes in the literature: the outdoors as a space to be physically active, the outdoors as a risky space, the challenge of creating an appropriate outdoor environment and the significance of the practitioner outdoors. The article argues that there is a need to re-conceive the ways in which the youngest children engage with the outdoors and to move beyond possible narratives of exclusion.
... warned of the myriad of risks to a generation of children who rarely explore natural environments, and coined the term 'nature deficit disorder'. A systematic review of academic research confirmed that spending time in natural settings promotes children's healthy development and wellbeing (Gill, 2014). Having trees and natural spaces in the community is not only important for children's health, but also encourages creative play . ...
Chapter
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In a Danish context regular (weekly or biweekly) education outside the classroom (EOtC), school-based outdoor learning or learning outside the classroom (LOtC) is called udeskole and aims to enhance both health and education. The purpose of this chapter is to present two Danish research projects; the Søndermark School and TEACHOUT studies. It highlights the impact and potentials of physical activity (PA) in primary school based on results from pupils (grade 3–6 grade—year 9–12), taught weekly outside the classroom and school buildings. The chapter summarises how teaching in nature, green areas or using cultural institutions like museums, factories, cemeteries etc. has an impact on PA levels. The Søndermark School study in Copenhagen investigated whether udeskole in urban nature or cultural institutions helps to increase children’s PA in four classes. 44 girls and 40 boys (grade 4–6) participated in this study, where the PA was measured for seven consecutive days. For all 84 pupils, the average PA was significantly higher on udeskole days compared to traditional school days without PE lessons. The average PA levels among boys were significantly higher than among girls in all mentioned settings, except on days with PE lessons, where both sexes’ PA levels were equal. As part of the TEACHOUT research project, PA of 663 children was measured 24 h a day for 9–10 consecutive days. Udeskole classes were compared with control classes, i.e. their parallel classes, from 12 schools located in different parts of Denmark, in a quasi-experimental design. A gender comparison was made on a weekly basis, i.e. days with more than 150 min of udeskole were compared with traditional school days and days with physical education (PE) classes. Measured over a whole week, boys having udeskole were more physically active than boys in control classes and girls in both settings. No difference was found between girls in udeskole and the comparison classes during a week, but girls on udeskole days were associated with a greater proportion of PA at light intensity than on traditional school days and days with PE lessons. In general, the children were far less sedentary during udeskole compared to traditional classroom teaching.
... Not only educators but also families are expected to support children's development by using play in different environmental settings, including outdoor places (Fjørtoft, 2001;Ginsburg, 2007;Leggett & Newman, 2017). It can be assumed that outdoor activities would add more to children's physical development only, but indeed, outdoor play and learning activities have crucial roles in children's social, cognitive, and emotional development (Bento & Dias, 2017;Gill, 2014). Coe (2017) indicated that outdoor play and activities enhance children's engagement capacity with the World and develop necessary skills to comprehend the complexity of the world they live in. ...
Article
The aim of the study is to explore outdoor play activities and outdoor environment of early childhood education in Turkey by presenting findings from a qualitative metasynthesis of research. The data was derived from 20 studies done in Turkey. Content analysis was performed to examine how outdoor play and activities in Turkish preschools were conceptualized and justified by teachers, parents, and children. The result showed three themes: (1) A prominent theme is the main actors of the studies’ subjects, namely the teachers, parents, and children. (2) The studies are based on different dimensions of theoretical perspectives which can be grounded in developmental, pedagogical, sociological, and ecological dimensions. (3) Finally, an emerging theme is related to the accessibility of outdoor spaces, the quality, and adequacy of these existing spaces.
... Richard Louv's lighthouse publication The Last Child in the Woods (Louv, 2005) warned of the myriad of risks to a generation of children who rarely explore natural environments, and coined the term 'nature deficit disorder'. A systematic review of academic research confirmed that spending time in natural settings promotes children's healthy development and wellbeing (Gill, 2014). Having trees and natural spaces in the community is not only important for children's health, but also encourages creative play (Chawla, 2015). ...
Chapter
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In this century characterised by rapid change and unprecedented challenges, most education systems have acknowledged the importance of developing interpersonal and intrapersonal skills alongside technical knowledge. This chapter describes how two approaches to outdoor learning develop these 21st century competencies, through the lens of experiential education. Outdoor Adventure Education is an established pedagogical vehicle for developing psycho-social skills. Learning Outside the Classroom is a rising movement of teaching subject content while simultaneously promoting interpersonal, communication, teamwork, critical thinking, and conflict resolution skills, creativity and connection with nature. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the potential of outdoor environments to foster transformative competencies, and the inherent challenges for integration into regular school experiences.
... The same study measured emotional and behavioral problems with the parent-rated Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and reported children experiencing problems in regard to their psychological well-being, and the youngest child students were more vulnerable than the older ones (19.3%, 16.7%, and 13.7% for low, middle, and high grades, respectively) [32]. This is a significant concern as exposure to natural outdoor spaces not only enhances children's physical well-being and their cognition but also improves their mental well-being [33][34][35][36]. The positive correlation between connectedness to nature (CN) and psychological well-being has been demonstrated in empirical studies on children, adolescents, and younger children [3,36,37]. ...
Article
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Urbanized children today have fewer opportunities to interact with nature which may lead to a greater risk of mental health problems. The objective of this randomized controlled trial was to investigate which particular changes in connectedness to nature (CN) would improve psychological well-being (PW) in young children. Six hundred and thirty-nine preschoolers (52.0% boys, age 34.9 ± 9.5 months) participated in Play&Grow, an early environmental education intervention. Children’s CN and PW were evaluated by parents before and after the program with validated measures; the CNI-PPC (four factors) and the SDQ, Strength and Difficulties questionnaire (five factors), respectively. The effectiveness of the intervention on the primary outcomes (CN, PW) as well as the relationship between them was analyzed in a repeated measures path model with intervention status as a causal predictor. Specific CN factors consistently increased ProSocial behavior and reduced Hyperactivity and Emotional problems. In summary, this study showed that the previously reported impact shifted from the total CN score to the specific CN factors. The Play&Grow intervention positively increased children’s CN and improved some aspects of psychological well-being in children which is a preliminary evidence of developmental benefits of connecting young children with nature. Our results indicate promising direction of action for the improvement of families’ psychological health.
... Interacting with nature benefits children in several ways (Chawla, 2015;Gill, 2014), including improved physical flexibility and balance (Fjørtoft, 2004;Sando & Sandseter, 2020), cognitive function (Dadvand et al., 2015;Ulrich et al., 2008), creativity (Samborski, 2010), social interactions (Baines & Blatchford, 2011;Titman, 1994), and mental health (Chawla, Keena, Pevec, & Stanley, 2014). Childhood interactions with nature also cultivate pro-environmental behavior (PEB) during both childhood and adulthood (Li & Chen, 2015;Whitburn, Linklater, & Abrahamse, 2020). ...
Article
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Previous research has asserted that promoting connection to nature can enhance children's environmental attitudes and cultivate their pro-environmental behavior. School green spaces and educational programs have been recognized as important interventions toward this goal, although empirical study examining their effectiveness, especially in China, is rare. This study collected data from 1,597 students (9-12 years old) in southwest China. The study used the Two Major Environmental Values scale to measure two dimensions of children's environmental attitude—preservation and utilization—and used a project-specific pro-environmental behavior scale to measure children's self-reported pro-environmental behavior. The results found that students' perceived school environment is consistent with objective measures of “green space quality.” Meanwhile, students' perception of their school environment and their interactions with natural elements have a positive correlation with students' preservation attitude and pro-environmental behavior. School green activities have a negative correlation with a utilization environmental attitude. This study thus highlights the value of green campuses, and when supplemented by environmental pedagogical activities, they could significantly contribute to equipping children with environmental literacy.
... Programmes and initiatives to increase engagement with nature, such as '30 Days Wild' from The Wildlife Trusts, have also shown that engagement with nature can be increased, well-being can be improved, and personal affinities towards nature can be fostered (Icarus, 2014;Nisbet, 2013;Richardson, Cormack, McRobert, & Underhill, 2016). While much evidence has followed from research with adults, children's engagement with nature is receiving increasing attention, and benefits to children's health, wellbeing, and other aspects of life are increasingly plausible (Adams & Savahl, 2017;Gill, 2014;Lovell, 2016a;Moss, 2012;Muñoz, 2009;RSPB, 2010;Woolley, Pattacini, & Somerset-Ward, 2011). ...
Technical Report
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This study looked at the impact of Wildlife Trust events that involved children learning about nature while out of doors. The research surveyed 451 children before and after they undertook Wildlife Trust events, and also undertook observations of and interviews with 199 of the children, 17 of their teachers, and 17 Wildlife Trust practitioners delivering the events. The quantitative analysis accounted for children having different characteristics (such as gender and age), undertaking different Wildlife Trust events, having different initial levels of engagement with nature-related aspects of life (such as spending time outdoors in nature or reading books about nature), and having different initial levels of well-being, nature connection, and pro-environmental values. Increases were revealed over time for the children’s subjective well-being, nature connection, and pro-environmental values. These findings were supported through the children’s reflections on their own experiences, and through the observations and interviews. Children’s enjoyment levels were seen to be high; their motivation and engagement were high; and they exhibited curiosity, active observation, and engagement with nature.
... The sense of affiliation with Nature matures quite early in childhood, following a rather precise value pattern (Kahn and Kellert, 2002) and development of the environmental cognition (Barbiero and Berto, 2016). The relationship between children and Nature has been extensively studied (Kahn, 1997;Kahn and Kellert, 2002;Gill, 2014;Adams and Savahl, 2017;Tillmann et al., 2018), and the consensus is almost unanimous that children's first experiences with Nature are fundamental (Wells and Lekies, 2006;Dadvand et al., 2015), lacking which incompetence prevails (Balmford et al., 2002) together with a feeling of fear for Nature (Bixler and Floyd, 1997). Children generally appreciate natural environments (Chawla, 2007;Kalvaitis and Monhardt, 2015), preferring them to artificial environments (Simmons, 1994;Mahidin and Maulan, 2012;Berto et al., 2015). ...
Article
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Biophilia is a human personality trait described initially by Erich Fromm and later by E.O. Wilson, both of whom agree that biophilia has a biological basis and that it is fundamental to develop harmonious relationships between humans and the biosphere. This review aims at establishing a definition of biophilia as an evolutionary process. To this end, the most significant studies of evolutionary psychology were considered, to outline the fundamental characteristics of a hypothetical biophilic temperament/personality and to reconstruct a plausible history of biophilia as an evolutionary process. This process considers different typologies of Nature (wilderness, rural, and urban) and human cultures (Paleolithic, Neolithic, and Burg) and leads us to consider environmental preference and psycho-physiological recovery in relation to the threshold of time spent in contact with Nature. Unfortunately, modern people, especially children, lack direct and frequent contact with Nature and this can have negative consequences on their physical and mental health. Biophilic design, considering the evolutionary roots of this architectural approach, is an effective way of planning/designing interior and urban environments to stimulate the innate biophilia of the individual.
... In this way, children's learning can be maximized in environments that provide them with rich contexts and a myriad of interesting possibilities [7]. It seems access to gardens or natural environments could be important for preschool children, as it can increase their opportunities for participation in deep and complex play, which is thought to be necessary for typical development [44]. ...
Article
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Physical environmental factors affect the developmental process of children. Thus, the main purpose of the present study was to investigate the two intervention models of affordances on the motor proficiency and social maturity of children. A semi-experimental research design with a pretest-posttest design and two groups were used, adopting the convenience method. Two groups of 15 children (aged 5.5-6.5 years) engaged in 12 weeks of nature school or kindergarten. The Bru-ininks-Oseretsky test of motor proficiency and the Vineland social maturity scale were used. The results of a mixed ANOVA showed that natural outdoor activity has a greater positive effect on motor proficiency and social maturity than kindergarten activities. Intra-group analysis also showed that both groups had progressed, but the nature school group made more progress. These results were discussed and interpreted based on the types of environmental affordances, Gibson's theory, Bronfenbrenner theory, and child-friendly environment. It was suggested that natural environmental stimulations play a critical role in optimal child motor and social development during the early stages of life.
... Further, the study suggests that this exposure can contribute toward more "playful" engagement. 37 Play is a well-established cornerstone of healthy social and emotional development among children. ...
Technical Report
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The Vitality of Forests: Illustrating the evidence connecting forests and human health, is intended to better justify why the public, policymakers, and private sector should be interested in forests’ role beyond their recreational, carbon sequestration, or biodiversity conservation potential. The evidence demonstrates that public health and forests are entwined—at the local, regional, and global scale—and that across each of nature’s contributions to human health, forest conservation, protection, and management can improve human lives.
... Time in nature was also mentioned as important in influencing their work by three EU interviewees despite not being a specific question in this interview, and time in nature has been suggested to be important for healthy attitudinal development in children [44]. Childhood experiences with the natural world and free-ranging wildlife have been shown to strongly predispose adults to be tolerant of wildlife [45], and a rural upbringing alongside childhood pet ownership was shown to influence career choice in veterinary students [46]. ...
Article
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Characterising the people that work in zoos is a key element of understanding how zoos might better contribute to conservation activities. The purpose of this study was to investigate demographics, early life experiences and perceptions of zoo staff to the role of the modern zoo. This paper reports the key characteristics and qualitative themes emerging from study of international (European and Chinese) zoo professionals. Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with eight Chinese and eight European zoo staff about aspects of zoological animal welfare, conservation and zoological practices. These qualitative data were thematically analysed, and themes generated. This paper describes interviewee demographics and two themes relating to ‘early life influences’ and ‘the role of the modern zoo’. This analysis indicates that demographic data and early life influences of zoo professionals were broadly similar between two culturally diverse regions, but that their views on the role of the modern zoo differed, particularly in terms of their perceptions of conservation activities, with European interviewees focussing on biodiversity conservation, and Chinese interviewees focussing on animal protection.
... Večina študij se osredotoča na pozitivne učinke vzgoje otrok v naravnem okolju (npr. O'Brien in Murray, 2007;Gill, 2014), malo študij pa preučuje zaznave učiteljev ali staršev (npr. Lindemann-Matthies in Knecht, 2011; Vandermaas-Peeler in sod., 2019) in dejavnike, ki vplivajo na dejanski obisk predšolskih skupin (Kos in Jerman, 2013;Nastran, 2020). ...
Article
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Preschool children spend a large part of their everyday life in kindergartens, so it is necessary to include visits to the forest, which is the most extensive natural environment in Slovenia, in preschool childcare programs. Based on surveys with preschool teachers of public kindergartens in Slovenia (N = 133), we analysed the habits, purposes, barriers and concerns associated with visiting the forest. The frequency and duration of forest visits largely depend on the distance of the forest from the kindergarten. The habits of forest visits among forest kindergartens which are included in the Network of Forest Kindergartens organized by the Institute of Forest Pedagogy do not differ significantly from that of general public kindergartens. They differ mainly with respect to the frequency of visitation in bad weather and the purpose of visitation. The main concerns when visiting the forest are ticks, fear of injury, and the children having inappropriate equipment. The reasons for less frequent forest visitation include different pedagogical priorities of the kindergartens and lack of support from the management and parents, which highlight the need for the strategic promotion and implementation of forest visitation in preschool education.
... The third stage evaluates the theoretical congruity (Noyes, Popay, Pearson & Hannes, 2008). The assessment of stage two and three is inspired by a simplified approach to critical appraisal taken by Gill (2014). The studies included in the current review were evaluated based on the following criteria: ...
Article
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This inquiry reports the findings of a systematized review of recent studies concerning the affordances associated with implementing mobile technol- ogy in outdoor learning. The emergent employment of mobile technolo- gies in education worldwide adds new layers of complexity to the field that require a better understanding. The review aims to summarize and critically interrogate peer-reviewed studies and identify gaps in current research. Taken collectively, the 33 reviewed articles mirror the dualism that is pre- sent within the field. Whilst some studies show that the portability and accessibility of mobile devices offer new opportunities, others point at issues of complexity, safety, and loss of experiential quality. The findings highlight three principal strategies that offer meaningful ways to manage the tensions between technology and outdoor learning: mitigation, inten- tionality, and adaptation. The review thus offers a deeper understanding of how outdoor learning programs can effectively integrate mobile technol- ogy to overcome the nature-technology dichotomy.
... Nature experiences and frequent contact with plants and animals are important for children's health and well-being (Chawla, 2015;Gill, 2014;Louv, 2006). Nature experiences can be of very different kinds, from picking flowers to bird watching, fishing or hiking. ...
Article
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This study investigated with the help of in-depth interviews and a think-aloud-approach how 10-to12-year-old children (n = 46) in the Canton of Berne, Switzerland, get to know species, how they identify plants and animals, and for how important they consider species knowledge to be. Own observations and sensual experiences coupled with positive emotions were most prominent when children encountered plants and animals for the first time. Family members helped most in getting to know species, and were more needed in case of plants. When de-scribing plants, children focused less on flower or flower color than on other characteristic traits. In case of animals, special attention was paid on the body, i.e., its size, form and color. Mean knowledge of animals and mean number of traits mentioned per class was positively re-lated. Children considered species knowledge important for utilitarian reasons and because they thought it part of a general education.
... This review builds on evidence from previous systematic reviews which assessed research in natural environments (30)(31)(32). In general, those reviews reflect the findings in the current systematic review, where nature-based experiences enhance mental health, emotional regulation and environmental knowledge and attitudes. ...
Article
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Background The value of natural environments for developing children's self-identity and social skills has been known for some time, and more recently the potential of nature-specific (i.e., excluding built environments) outdoor learning for achieving academic outcomes has been explored. Connecting children with natural spaces has been shown to benefit their physical and mental health; however, the utility of nature-specific outdoor environments as a setting for curricular and non-curricular learning has yet to be clearly established. Our aim was to undertake a narrative synthesis of international evidence of nature-specific outdoor learning and its benefits for personal and social development, wellbeing and academic progress. Methods This systematic review searched publications between 2000 and 2020 in nine academic databases for evidence of socio-emotional and academic benefits of nature-specific outdoor learning in school-aged educational settings, using concise search criteria registered with PROSPERO. The total search results of 17,886 records were initially screened by title, and then two reviewers made blind reviews of the title and abstract of 1,019 records. Results 147 original research studies meeting the criteria were identified. Learning settings ranged across outdoor adventure education, school gardens, field trips, and traditional school subjects taught in natural environments. Study characteristics were summarized, and risk-of-bias tools assessed quality of research as generally moderate, although with a wide range. The reported benefits of learning in natural outdoor settings include: increased student engagement and ownership of their learning, some evidence of academic improvement, development of social and collaborative skills, and improved self-concept factors. Conclusions Nature-specific outdoor learning has measurable socio-emotional, academic and wellbeing benefits, and should be incorporated into every child's school experience with reference to their local context. Teacher pre-service and in-service education needs to include a focus on how natural settings can be used effectively for learning. Further research is needed to clarify the conditions under which specific forms of outdoor learning are most efficacious for various target outcomes. It is recommended that future studies measuring outdoor learning adopt established methodologies to improve the quality of research in this field. Systematic Review Registration https://www.crd.york.ac.uk/prospero/display_record.php?RecordID=153171 .
... Otto and Pensini (2017) argued that direct contact through natural environmental education can improve environmental knowledge and connection to nature. Similarly, Gill (2014) highlighted the importance of more open, self-initiated, and playful experiences in this regard. In short, it seems important to investigate how nature-themed museums and exhibitions can be optimised to make them more interesting for preschool children and contribute more to their health and well-being. ...
Book
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Proceedings of the DRS LEARN X DESIGN 2021: 6th International Conference for Design Education Researchers Engaging with Challenges in Design Education: 10th Anniversary of the International Conference for Design Education Researchers Editors: Erik Bohemia; Liv Merete Nielsen; Lusheng Pan; Naz A.G.Z. Börekçi & Yang Zhang Section Editors: Úrsula Bravo; Catalina Cortés; Jeannette LaFors; Fabio Andres Telle; Natalia Allende; Eva Lutnæs; Karen Brænne; Siri Homlong; Hanna Hofverberg; Ingvill Gjerdrum https://learnxdesign.net/lxd2021/
... Exposure to nature in school settings whether it be passively experiencing enhanced green space in the school environment [99] or actively participating in lessons in nature [100] appear to improve child wellbeing. Broadly, evidence suggests that nature exposure is part of a 'balanced diet' of childhood experiences that supports healthy child development and wellbeing [101]. More research into how we can incorporate the knowledge of how nature can benefit MH into the school environment is needed. ...
Article
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Mental health (MH) difficulties are on the increase among children and young people (CYP). Evidence has shown that educational settings contain both risk and protective factors for MH. This review investigated which structural and cultural factors and interventions within educational settings promote positive MH and prevent poor MH in 4–18 year olds. Searches were conducted in PsychINFO, Embase, ERIC, ASSIA and British Education Index, and reference lists from key studies and relevant systematic reviews were hand-searched. Intervention, cohort, and qualitative studies were included. Of the 62 included papers, 36 examined cultural factors (30 social/relational and six value-related) while 12 studies examined structural factors (eight organisational and four physical) and 14 studies examined multiple factors. There was strong evidence for the impact of positive classroom management techniques, access to physical activity, and peer mentoring on student MH. Studies examining the impact of positive school culture, teacher training in MH and parent involvement in school MH activities also found predominantly positive results for student MH, albeit the evidence was of lower quality or from a low number of studies. Few studies explicitly examined the impact of interventions on MH inequalities; those that did indicated limited if any reduction to inequalities. A very small number of studies suggested that interventions targeting those at risk of poor MH due to socioeconomic factors could successfully improve wellbeing and reduce depression, anxiety and behavioural problems. Studies exploring the effect of management and leadership strategies within schools, policies, and aspects of the physical environment other than green space were scarce or absent in the literature. This review highlights the need to consider the ways in which educational settings are organised, the culture that is created and the physical space in order to improve the MH of CYP.
... There is also evidence that play, in general, is good for children's wellbeing and mental health; children admitted to hospital show lower levels of anxiety and fewer negative emotions when they take part in a play intervention [19] and, when given time for free play, hospitalised children show reductions in stress [20]. Outdoor play and being in nature, which facilitate adventurous play, also have a positive effect on children's wellbeing [21][22][23], but the direct link between adventurous play and children's anxiety has yet to be examined. ...
Article
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It is theorised that adventurous play offers learning opportunities that help to prevent mental health problems in children. In this study, data from two samples is used to examine associations between the time that children aged 5–11 years spent playing adventurously and their mental health. For comparison, time spent playing unadventurously and time spent playing outdoors are also examined. Study 1 includes a sample of 417 parents, Study 2 includes data from a nationally representative sample of 1919 parents. Small, significant associations between adventurous play and internalising problems, as well as positive affect during the first UK-wide Covid-19 lockdown, were found; children who spend more time playing adventurously had fewer internalising problems and more positive affect during the Covid-19 lockdown. Study 2 showed that these associations were stronger for children from lower income families than for children from higher income families. The results align with theoretical hypotheses about adventurous play.
Chapter
This work explores the socio-spatial relations, urban practices, and institutional arrangements that contribute to the inclusivity of urban nightlife to children. Through a survey of selected literature, this work shows that while there are efforts to address issues of children's overnight experiences, some urban practices also downplay children's urban night experiences. The most significant discussions that emerged from this interest are related to the meaning of public spaces at night; differences in cities' inclusion of children during the day versus the night; privileged and underprivileged childhoods at night; and attention to adults who work on behalf of children, such as women, educators, and neighbourhood communities. Together, the literature reveals the importance of urban policies and research toward children's social integration in the city nightlife. Finally, this chapter proposes the “ethics of care” in everyday life as a framework in creating urban spaces in which children are integrated into the conviviality of the city nightlife.
Conference Paper
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The P21 Framework for 21st Century Learning identifies collaboration as a key educational outcome as it prepares students for the real world problem solving and enhance their prospects for employment. Therefore, group assessments are becoming a commonplace in higher education, mainly to promote collaborative working environment and peer learning amongst students. In addition, group assessments are considered as an effective assessment strategy to manage large classes as it reduces the marking burden on academics. Despite the benefits, students resent group work particularly when a common group mark is awarded when there is a varying level of inputs from the members of the group. Especially, non- engaging students could possibly attain good grades without contributing to the group work or with minimal contribution. This problem of “free riders” disadvantages and discourages engaging students. There is a plethora of peer assessment methods used by academics to assess group works. However, there is a dearth of studies which explores why a particular method is preferred and the difference it makes on the final grades of students. Therefore, this paper explores different methods of peer assessments by reviewing recent literature and expands into comparing the final grades derived from two different methods of peer assessments adopted in the same module to study the end results. Finally, the correlation between the final individual grades and the peer marks given was unpacked which allows academics to make an informed decision.
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Today’s children spend less time in nature than in previous generations (Louv, 2008). As a result, children tend to dissociate themselves from nature, often viewing it as a far off or imaginary place (Aaron & Witt, 2011). Urban and suburban students may perceive they lack the natural experiences necessary to discuss environmental issues (e.g., water quality, climate change), reducing their ability to effectively internalize science content. Place-based education repairs the relationship between children, nature, and community. Place-based education derives curricula from the local community pertaining to “both the natural and built environments” (Sobel, 2004, p. 13). Benefits from natural experiences include increased engagement, understanding of scientific content, mental and physical benefits, development of personal identity, and environmental stewardship skills (Gill, 2014). Exploring scientific content within the local environment helps children identify novel aspects of nature causing a deeper curiosity and sense of responsibility towards environmental stewardship (Bugden & Stedman, 2018). To develop environmental stewardship in students, teachers must engage students in concrete experiences paired with explicit discussions about environmental care. Not only can place-based education teach students about caring for nature, but it can also increase equity and inclusion through cultural relevance (Gruenewald, 2003; NGSS, Appendix D).
Article
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La concepción que el ser humano tiene del espacio urbano es decisiva en la estructuración de su pensamiento. Este hecho tiene una gran importancia para la población infantil al condicionar el desarrollo de experiencias que asientan destrezas y capacidades, favoreciendo el aprendizaje significativo. Sin embargo, la progresiva deshumanización de las ciudades ha ido restringiendo el contacto directo de la población infantil con el medio urbano. En este trabajo se analizan algunas iniciativas de reencuentro de este sector de la población con la ciudad (La Ciudad de los Niños por Francesco Tonucci, Ciudades Amigas de la Infancia de UNICEF) y el papel que hoy en día está jugando el urbanismo social, participativo y sostenible como corriente convergente con dichas iniciativas. A través una revisión de documentación institucional, de proyectos y de fuentes bibliográficas se analizan los fundamentos de estas formas de entender la construcción de la ciudad. Y se estudian algunos ejemplos de nuestro país que evidencian cómo esta corriente urbanística puede servir como modelo de intervención en municipios comprometidos con los programas defensores de la infancia.
Article
Objectives This paper discusses the issue of adolescent exclusion from the public (playgrounds, beaches, roads) and private realm (homes) and its link to their sense of community belonging, identity, and mental health. Methods This research project employed a rights-based approach, and such a methodology focuses on research with , rather than research about , children and adolescents. In line with this philosophy, a wide range of qualitative participatory methodologies were employed with children and adolescents. In total, 411 children and adolescents (3–17 years) took part in consultation workshops across the county. Results From the age of 11 onwards, children report a sense of ‘not belonging’ to recognised ‘children’s places’ such as playgrounds. Young adolescents report being actively excluded from public and private spaces. The effects of this exclusion are examined in relation to their sense of belonging, identity, and well-being. Conclusions Exclusionary practices appear to be increasing and impacting on younger children in both private and public spaces. This forced exclusion of children and adolescents from the public and private realm challenges their sense of belonging or connectedness which is associated with low self-esteem, high levels of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. A more inclusive, rights-based approach should be employed in all aspects of public realm design that actively seeks and incorporates the views of children and adolescents as well as the more dominant voice of the adult.
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Forest School caters for a range of groups of children including those with who are referred to as having Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs (Special Educational Need and Disabilities (SEND) Code of Practice, 2014); children who have particular difficulties managing their emotions or are withdrawn, and struggle to concentrate and/or relate to others. SEMH needs covers a wide range of emotional problems covering a range of complex difficulties including emotional difficulties and complex mental health issues such as adjustment disorders, anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) among many others. Policy initiatives in England on behaviour for example, Behaviour and Discipline in Schools (Department for Education, 2013) and on reform of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND Code of Practice, 2014) make reference, respectively, to educator perceptions of poor behaviour by children and to practitioner views about SEMH. This paper explores the potential for Forest School as a learning environment that is positive for children with SEMH needs.
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Disasters have numerous effects on children as one of the vulnerable groups in society. To this end, in this study, using the qualitative method of phenomenology and painting tool, we analyzed the experiences of children who encountered a flood disaster in Lorestan province in western Iran. The study was conducted through deep interviews with 34 children who experienced floods. Analysis of interviews with and paintings obtained from the studied children revealed that ten key experiences and effects from children's flood experiences could be identified. The study's findings revealed that children's lived experiences of flood can provide a suitable opportunity for individual, social, economic, geographical, spatial, and environmental recognition, understanding, education, and preparedness of them as the future generation. Therefore, understanding children's experiences of flood disasters and their effects can be beneficial not only for planning and managing hazards, but also for reducing the vulnerability of both the future generation and their children.
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There is increasing evidence for the restorative and stress-reducing benefits of natural window views and indoor vegetation. However, few studies have investigated associations between the naturalness of window and interior classroom views and students’ well-being and performance in primary schools. The present cross-sectional study investigated associations between the naturalness of window and interior classroom views and primary students’ subjective well-being and actual performance in a standardized attention and concentration test. Well-being was assessed with a written survey, covering students’ satisfaction and comfort in school, ability to concentrate and learn in class, satisfaction with achievements, perceived stress, and social belonging. Attention and concentration were measured with the d2-revision test. Social density, wall color, and degree of classroom decoration were controlled for. Students (n = 785; 8–11 years old; all 4th graders) reported less stress and were more focused on a task in classrooms with more natural window views, i.e., in rooms where more natural elements could be seen outside. Natural interior views, and thus the number of plants in a classroom, were not significantly associated with the tested variables. Children’s nature connectedness (measured as their time spent in nature and on plant care) was positively associated with feelings of comfort and learning satisfaction in school. Time spent in nature was also associated with less perceived stress and fatigue, and with more attentive behavior during lessons. Performance in the d2-revision test was not associated with the naturalness of classroom views, but was lower for children who perceived stress in school.
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Researchers have extensively explored the quality and type of experiences preschoolers have in different types of out-of-home care. However, the experiences of preschoolers who are not enrolled in any type of out-of-home care but instead are cared for by their parents remain under-researched. In fact, although there is scarce literature on time-use, that is on the number of hours mothers and/or fathers may spend with their children, we know little about if this time is quality time and how it is spent. At the same time, the limited research on stay-at-home-moms (SAHMs) suggests that their experiences are also absent from the literature. Drawing on this ignorance of experiences of children and their SAHMs, who come from diverse value contexts, the present study aims at filling research gaps and at questioning dominant discourses about early childhood, parenting and parent support provision by presenting the lived experiences of this frequently underrepresented group. Specifically, by presenting the effects of a self-developed community of learners outdoors, which consisted of a group of four SAHMs who visited almost daily, for almost a year, one particular playground with their toddlers, the study highlights the need to re-conceptualize early childhood, parenting (time use) and parenting support. The results not only highlight the effects of this outdoor play experience on children and their mothers but also move away the deficit model that is frequently adopted to parenting and parenting support provision policy and practice and highlights parents’ role as advocates for their children’s well-being at the present. In addition, the study reveals that childhood is taking place during everyday relations and exchanges in the natural and social environment, rather than it is protected in a separate space which is isolated from the ecosystem that surrounds children.
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Population growth along with land scarcity have justified the spread of vertical buildings in major populated cities. The intensity of land use has always been an alternative solution in the face of land scarcity, high land values, and energy consumption rising. Therefore, vertical buildings appear in every function of an urban environment (educational, commercial, official, and residential buildings). In this new building model, traditional horizontal schools are no longer feasible and are not financially viable. As a case study, to provide state-of-the-art educational environments as one of each society's critical functions, vertical schools have emerged. One of the main gaps in designing today’s vertical school buildings is the lack of interaction with green and open spaces, especially concerning children’s spaces in hot-humid climatic regions. The term kindergarten, derived from the philosophies of German educator Friedrich Frobel (1782–1852) in the 1840s and translates literally to ‘Kids in the Garden’, reveals an underlying proclivity for integrating indoor and outdoor learning environments. As a result of this shortage of interacting with natural spaces, mediated spaces are introduced in this paper as environments between outdoor and indoor spaces, like extended facades, patios, balconies, verandas, internal courtyards, and atria. The main questions here are how and to what extent these mediated spaces would have dedicated the school space so that children would most benefit from pedagogy and well-being aspects? This paper aims to explore the viability of vertical primary schools through mediated spaces. This study's methodology is benefited from perusing a literature review and case studies related to interacting vertical buildings with nature. The result leads to showcasing the necessity of interaction with the natural environment to improve the quality of learning, well-being, and health population parameters of children’s lives in school settings.
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Humans are fundamentally designers – humans create artifacts, shelters, communities, and landscapes. Design is a complicated process and involves conceiving, representing, and executing constructions across a wide range of scales. Various methods and approaches to design have been theorized over the last several decades resulting in a wide range of design process diagrams and strategies. The task outlined here was to develop a tool to help structure the ongoing decision-making that is part of any design process, to present a comprehensive range of topics that designers should consider as they evolve a scheme. To this end we are introducing the Diagram as a working tool that frames a broad range of spatial, ecological, cultural, and material factors; it is designed to play a key role as a teaching tool primarily within design studios.
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Organisations involved with nature protection or the conservation of biodiversity are generally interested in wildlife and in meeting the requirements of legislation on biodiversity. Recently, organisations such as English Nature, the government agency responsible for biodiversity protection in England, have been given responsibility to obtain data on how the environment contributes to people's social well-being and quality of life. In urban landscapes, particularly those that have been disturbed by large-scale industrial processes, natural areas defined in strict ecological terms hardly exist. In Britain there is a significant amount of land that has been disturbed to a greater or lesser degree over the last 200 or more years as a result of many industrial processes. Much of this land has been recycled for other uses including agriculture, housing, industry, open space, parks and woodlands. In some places natural regeneration into early successional woodland has taken place but usually quite a heavy series of interventions such as reshaping of the land, drainage, the addition of soil or soil forming materials and planting of trees and shrubs have been the preferred methods of restoration to woodland (Moffat 1997). In a number of areas in Britain industrial or extractive land uses have been located in rural areas where the restoration has been able to create links with other woodlands existing in the landscape.
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This article reviews four bodies of research that shed light on how to promote active care for the environment in children and youth: research on sources of proenvironmental behavior, socialization for democratic skills and values, the development of a personal sense of competence, and the development of collective competence. The article begins with an overview of studies of formative childhood experiences reported by environmental activists and educators, followed by correlational and experimental studies with young people regarding factors associated with their taking action for the environment. Because behaviors with the largest potential benefits for the environment require political engagement, the article also reviews experiences associated with young people’s interest and engagement in public issues. Action for the environment in the home or in public arena like schools and communities requires a personal sense of competence and a sense of collective competence, or confidence in one’s ability to achieve goals by working with a group. Therefore experiences that promote the development of these assets are summarized as well. The conclusion compares major findings in these different fields and discusses implications for environmental educators.
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There is increasing interest in the potential role of the natural environment in human health and well-being. However, the evidence-base for specific and direct health or well-being benefits of activity within natural compared to more synthetic environments has not been systematically assessed. We conducted a systematic review to collate and synthesise the findings of studies that compare measurements of health or well-being in natural and synthetic environments. Effect sizes of the differences between environments were calculated and meta-analysis used to synthesise data from studies measuring similar outcomes. Twenty-five studies met the review inclusion criteria. Most of these studies were crossover or controlled trials that investigated the effects of short-term exposure to each environment during a walk or run. This included 'natural' environments, such as public parks and green university campuses, and synthetic environments, such as indoor and outdoor built environments. The most common outcome measures were scores of different self-reported emotions. Based on these data, a meta-analysis provided some evidence of a positive benefit of a walk or run in a natural environment in comparison to a synthetic environment. There was also some support for greater attention after exposure to a natural environment but not after adjusting effect sizes for pretest differences. Meta-analysis of data on blood pressure and cortisol concentrations found less evidence of a consistent difference between environments across studies. Overall, the studies are suggestive that natural environments may have direct and positive impacts on well-being, but support the need for investment in further research on this question to understand the general significance for public health.
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The purpose of this study was to examine how healthy weight status among youth was related to (i) three proximity-based park variables: number of parks within 1 km of home, total area of parkland within 1 km, and distance to the closest park from home, and (ii) the availability of 13 specific park facilities within 1 km of the home. Data were collected from parents of children living in four neighborhoods of a medium-sized Canadian city. Logistic regression analyses revealed that none of the three proximity-based park variables was significantly associated with healthy weight status among children in the sample. However, when availability of the 13 park facilities was examined, children with a park playground within 1 km were almost five times more likely to be classified as being of a healthy weight rather then at risk or overweight compared to those children without playgrounds in nearby parks. Results suggest that availability of certain park facilities may play a more important role in promoting physical activity and healthy weight status among children than availability of park space in general. Implications for park design are discussed.
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In this study, we investigated the relationship between school ground design and children's physical activity levels. In particular, we were interested in understanding the contribution of 'green' school ground design to physical activity levels. Data for this study were collected at an elementary school in Australia and in Canada. At each school, scans of Target Areas were completed to record the students' location and intensity of physical activity, based on the System for Observing Play and Leisure Activity in Youth (SOPLAY) (Australia: 23 scans, 6 Target Areas; Canada: 18 scans, 7 Target Areas). At both schools, the highest percentage of children present was engaged in vigorous physical activity on the manufactured equipment (42% of children/scan). Similarly, at both schools, the green area encouraged the highest percentage of children present to be engaged in moderate physical activity (47% of Australian children/scan, 51% of Canadian children/scan). The patterns of sedentary behavior differed slightly between countries. At the Australian school, the paved sporting courts (57%) and the paved canteen courtyard (50.5%) promoted the highest degree of sedentary play. At the Canadian school, the treed grassy berm (42%) and the treed concrete steps (43%) encouraged the highest percentage of sedentary behavior, followed by the open asphalt (34%). These results are also discussed in light of gender distribution. We conclude with a discussion of the design and cultural factors that influence children's physical activity on school grounds. We argue that if school grounds are to realize their potential to promote physical activity, they should include a greater diversity of design features and 'green' elements that engage children of varying interests and abilities in active play.
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Available studies of the built environment and the BMI of children and youth suggest a contemporaneous association with neighborhood greenness in neighborhoods with high population density. The current study tests whether greenness and residential density are independently associated with 2-year changes in the BMI of children and youth. The sample included children and youth aged 3-16 years who lived at the same address for 24 consecutive months and received well-child care from a Marion County IN clinic network within the years 1996-2002 (n=3831). Multiple linear regression was used to examine associations among age- and gender-specific BMI z-scores in Year 2, residential density, and a satellite-derived measure of greenness, controlling for baseline BMI z-scores and other covariates. Logistic regression was used to model associations between an indicator of BMI z-score increase from baseline to Time 2 and the above-mentioned predictors. Higher greenness was significantly associated with lower BMI z-scores at Time 2 regardless of residential density characteristics. Higher residential density was not associated with Time 2 BMI z-scores in models regardless of greenness. Higher greenness was also associated with lower odds of children's and youth's increasing their BMI z-scores over 2 years (OR=0.87; 95% CI=0.79, 0.97). Greenness may present a target for environmental approaches to preventing child obesity. Children and youth living in greener neighborhoods had lower BMI z-scores at Time 2, presumably due to increased physical activity or time spent outdoors. Conceptualizations of walkability from adult studies, based solely on residential density, may not be relevant to children and youth in urban environments.
Greenspace and Quality of Life: A Critical Literature Review. Research Report by OPENspace for Greenspace Scotland
  • S Bell
  • V Hamilton
  • A Montarzino
  • H Rothnie
  • P Travlou
  • S Alves
Bell, S., V. Hamilton, A. Montarzino, H. Rothnie, P. Travlou and S. Alves (2008). Greenspace and Quality of Life: A Critical Literature Review. Research Report by OPENspace for Greenspace Scotland. Stirling: Greenspace Scotland.