At the time of writing, spring is just around the corner and snowdrops and daffodils are already sprouting out of the ground. Soon, it’ll start to feel warmer and we’ll be more likely to venture outdoors again. With that in mind, we thought the time was perfect for a post all about the benefits of nature to children, particularly in their early years. If you’re a parent/carer and your children don’t usually get much exposure to nature, take a look at these benefits and consider encouraging them to get out more. The natural world and everything it offers will enrich their young lives in a myriad of natural ways.
1. Nature is Good for the Mind & Spirit
Nature is good for both mind & spirit. Many studies have shown that time spent with nature is very healthy for mental wellbeing and you only have to spend time in the Great Outdoors to know that this is true. There is something instinctively calming about spending time outdoors, surrounded by flora and fauna, and this is very beneficial for mental health, including relieving stress, anxiety and even depression.
2. Imagination Stimulation
Nature stimulates the creative mind in children. The natural world is a place of absolute wonder, when you think about it — particularly for the very young. So, spending time outdoors sets their minds working to create adventures, build, perhaps draw, create dens, collect flowers, invent games and so much more. Nature is an almost limitless source for children’s imaginations!
3. Nature Gives Children Perspective
Spending time in the natural environment, surrounded by nature and everything that it brings, allows children to get a better perspective on life. Once they see the enormity of the ‘bigger picture’, small issues they may be facing will become insignificant and they will learn what’s really important and what’s not.
4. Nature Promotes Profound Thinking
Children also get to think bigger thoughts and ask bigger questions when they spend time out in nature. For example, “Where do I fit into the world?” … “What is this little creature doing?” … “What is he or she thinking?” … “How do those little seeds grow in the wild?” … “What is life?” … “How did we all get here?” … “Where does planet Earth fit into the bigger picture?” … and so on.
5. Nature Gives Children Greater Freedom
The natural world is vast so, with suitable adult supervision, allows children to feel much more free than they ever can indoors or in the confines of a playground. They can run around over larger areas, across different terrains and a myriad of different types of natural environment. It’s no wonder you see children putting their arms out like wings when they’re out in the natural world — they feel so free it makes them feel like they could almost fly!
6. Nature Facilitates Personal & Social Skills
The freedom and opportunities that children get from being out in nature help them to improve and build many skills. Playing and having adventures outdoors with other children will help them to improve language, social skills, self-confidence, teamwork skills, leadership skills, the ability to assess risk, responsibility, cooperation and so much more. What’s more, it also helps children to form closer bonds and friendships.
7. Nature Helps Children Focus
Children with ADHD particularly benefit from time spent out in the natural environment because it helps them to focus. Studies back this up as well as confirming that short-term memory can improve and mental energy increase for any child after a spell out in the natural world. Indeed, research shows that children’s attainment and engagement levels are higher in the classroom if they recently spent time in the natural environment.
8. Nature Improves Fitness
With the space to run around, explore, climb and build, nature helps children to become stronger and fitter in the most natural of ways. Another good thing about it is that it doesn’t even feel like they’re consciously ‘exercising’ when they’re having fun out in nature — it’s totally natural.
9. It Nurtures a Healthy Lifestyle
Time spent in the Great Outdoors as a child can often build a deep appreciation of nature, a natural tendency to keep fit, to eat a healthy diet and generally lead a healthier lifestyle as they grow older.
10. Nature Helps Improve Motor Skills
With the myriad of physical activities on offer in the natural world, children will improve both gross motor skills and fine ones without even trying. From running, jumping, balancing and coordination to finer skills like holding, fashioning, tying and hand-eye coordination, nature gives children an incredible range of opportunities to hone physical skills.
11. Nature is a Sensory Feast
Nature is also an absolute feast for potentially all of the senses, giving children ample opportunity to see, touch, smell, hear and (under suitable supervision) even taste. Vestibular (movement) and proprioception (body position) senses are also amply stimulated in the Great Outdoors. Stimulation of the senses is incredibly important for children, particularly in their early years, helping in the generation of new brain pathways and synapses that are part of the essential building foundations of children’s lives.
12. Nature Helps Children Appreciate the Environment
Spending time in the natural world also helps children to appreciate the flora and fauna that it contains. It’s a magical world, when you think about it, and every living thing has its own specific needs. Recognising this helps children to become more environmentally conscious and to build skills like empathy, responsibility, self-control and to understand the importance of caring for others.
13. Nature Helps Children Sleep Soundly
Time spent in nature, with everything it brings, helps infants sleep more soundly at night too — and that can only be a good thing. Studies back this up.
14. Nature Supports the EYFS
Nature supports many of the goals of the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage, an important framework that guides the learning and development of under-fives in England). Allowing children access to nature and the natural environment will help them with Understanding the World as they explore and discover, Physical Development as they play and move around in the outdoors, and both Communication & Language and Personal, Social & Emotional Development as they interact naturally with friends and supervising adults. That’s at least four of the 7 key areas of the EYFS.
15. Nature Improves Academic Performance
Numerous studies have concluded that the benefits of time spent in the natural environment help children to perform better academically. Improvements can even be seen in areas like reading, writing and mathematics.
16. Nature Gives Children Perspective
Spending time in the natural environment, surrounded by nature and everything that it brings, allows children to get a better perspective on life. Once they see the enormity of the ‘bigger picture’, they will learn what’s really important and, perhaps, what’s not.
Nature at Treetops Nursery, Willesden
The many benefits of nature are fully supported at Treetops Nursery in Willesden. Our wonderful outdoor areas even include plant-growing area and other play areas where children can enjoy the fresh air and explore natural materials and textures. The nursery/pre-school is also adjacent to the King Edward VII Park, so it feels very ‘green’ since it is surrounded by trees and natural vegetation. Roundwood Park is also only a stone’s throw away, with its flower garden, wildlife area and aviary. It’s a formal Victorian park, with English Heritage grade two listed status and holder of a Green Flag Award, for the high standard of the park and green spaces within it. Children at Treetops Nursery — and their families — therefore have easy access to nature and natural things all around.
Weekday Childcare Services in Willesden, near Kensal Green & Harlesden, NW10
Treetops Nursery is officially a ‘good’ nursery, located in Willesden, NW10 and also close by if you are looking for nurseries or pre-schools near Harlesden, Kensal Green or Willesden Green. Please get in touch if you’d like to bring your baby or child along for a visit, apply for a nursery place or simply ask any questions you may have: