The universal biophilic response adults have to the natural environment is especially pronounced in children. They feel the connection to -- and disconnection from -- the natural world more acutely than adults do. With more and more outside, unstructured playtime decreasing, children are increasingly disconnected from the natural world. This disconnection leads to fewer children who engage with nature and all the associated mental and physical issues that accompany a sedentary life lead inside.
How Nature Helps
A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that proximity to green space to a child’s home had a major impact that the child’s health and well-being. A study by the University of Tennessee found that adding natural elements to a playground such as rocks, a creek, logs and a slide and gazebo that were built into a small hill, contributed to an increase of use. More kids got of the porch and played, and not only that, played more.
Spending time outside encourages children to play, explore, and learn. A study published in the journal Environment and Behavior found that encouraging and supporting outdoor activities in children turns them into adults that continue the behavior of spending time outdoors. As with adults, spending time in nature instills our children with a positive sense of mental well-being.
"Morbidity is Related to Green Living Environment" Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2009
"Natural Playgrounds More Beneficial to Children, Inspire More Play" University of Tennessee, 2012
"The Influence of Childhood Operational Pathways on Adult Nature-Based Activities" Environment & Behavior, 2012
|ASLA 2010 Professional General Design Honor Award, Nueva School, Hillsborough, California, Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture / Image credit: Marion Brenmer
The Health Benefits of Parks , The Trust for Public Land
Health Benefits, National Wildlife Organization
US Fish and Wildlife Service
E.O. Wilson Center
National Environmental Education Foundation
The Student Conservation Association
Role of the Landscape Architect
By designing schools whose grounds are integrated into the surrounding landscapes, as well as spaces for outside learning and unstructured play, landscape architects provide children with access to nature in their day to day lives.
Designed naturalistic parks in the heart of cities, like Dumbarton Oaks Park, in Washington DC, allow children the chance to run, play and discover nature, all while being near home.
Nueva School, Hillsborough, California, Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture
Dumbarton Oaks Park, Washington, D.C., Beatrix Farrand, ALSA
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