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CHILDREN’S CONTACT WITH THE OUTDOORS AND NATURE: A FOCUS ON EDUCATORS AND EDUCATIONAL SETTINGS

CHILDREN’S CONTACT WITH THE OUTDOORS AND NATURE: A FOCUS ON EDUCATORS AND EDUCATIONAL SETTINGS

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CHILDREN’S CONTACT WITH THE OUTDOORS AND NATURE: A FOCUS ON EDUCATORS AND EDUCATIONAL SETTINGS
NOTE: The following are taken from four volumes of research developed by the Children & Nature Network (C&NN) and available at www.childrenandnature.org. These C&NN Annotated Bibliographies of Research and Studies were written by Cheryl Charles, Ph.D., President, Children & Nature Network and Alicia Senauer, Yale University.

Benefits to children from contact with the outdoors and nature
This section r
CHILDREN’S CONTACT WITH THE OUTDOORS AND NATURE: A FOCUS ON EDUCATORS AND EDUCATIONAL SETTINGS
NOTE: The following are taken from four volumes of research developed by the Children & Nature Network (C&NN) and available at www.childrenandnature.org. These C&NN Annotated Bibliographies of Research and Studies were written by Cheryl Charles, Ph.D., President, Children & Nature Network and Alicia Senauer, Yale University.

Benefits to children from contact with the outdoors and nature
This section r

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Published by: Children & Nature Network Resource Library on May 04, 2011
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2012 Children & Nature Network Page 1
CHILDREN’S CONTACT WITH THE OUTDOORS AND NATURE: A FOCUS ON EDUCATORS AND EDUCATIONAL SETTINGS
NOTE: The following are taken from five volumes of research developed by the Children & NatureNetwork (C&NN) and available at www.childrenandnature.org/research. These C&NN AnnotatedBibliographies of Research and Studies were written by Cheryl Charles, Ph.D., President, Children &Nature Network and Alicia Senauer Loge, Yale University.
 Table of Contents:PageSection 1: Benefits to children from contact with nature
1Focus: Literature reviews & overview documents 2Focus: School performance & learning 10Focus: Other benefits 23
Section 2: Children’s experience of nature
35Focus: Outdoor behavior 35Focus: Outdoor spaces 40Focus: Physical activity/fitness & weight 44Focus: Environmental knowledge, attitudes, & behavior 48
 
Benefits to children from contact with the outdoors and nature
 This section reviews research focused on the physical, mental, and social benefits that contact with the outdoors and nature provides to children. Research is grouped into several main focalareas.
 
©
 
2012 Children & Nature Network Page 2
Physical activity and exposure to nature are important to good health
In this literature review, Pretty and colleagues examine the role of physical activity and naturecontact on health and well-being, with a particular focus on children. The authors discuss thecurrent state of physical inactivity, the positive health benefits of nature contact, and the potentialrole of green exercise (activity in the presence of nature) toward improving health and well-being.Pretty and colleagues review three stages of childhood and their differing needs, evidence regarding children’s physical activity levels, and the benefits of children’s exposure to nature. The authorsdiscuss the impact of urban design and green space in terms of physical activity and various healthoutcomes, including cognitive health and learning, as well as the impact of nature-basedinterventions, such as care farms and wilderness therapy, for children with special needs. Based ontheir review, Pretty and colleagues propose two conceptual pathways—healthy and unhealthy—thatshape our lives and life outcomes. On the healthy pathway, people are active, connected to peopleand society, engage with natural places, and eat healthy foods and as a result tend to live longer andhave a better quality of life. On the unhealthy pathway, people are inactive, disconnected to peopleand society, do not engage with natural places, and eat unhealthy foods, and as a result die earlierand have a lower quality of life. In concluding their review, Pretty and colleagues make tenrecommendations to improve people’s well-being, including increasing children’s outdoor free play and encouraging planners to incorporate access to green space.
 Author Affiliation: Jules Pretty is with the University of Essex in the UK.
Pretty, J., Angus, C., Bain, M., Barton, J., Gladwell, V., Hine, R., et al. (2009).
Nature, childhood,health and life pathways 
: University of Essex.
 This report is available online at:http://www.essex.ac.uk/ces/occasionalpapers/Nature%20Childhood%20and%20Health%20iCES%20Occ%20Paper%202009-2%20FINAL.pdf  
(Volume 5)
Being outdoors is important to our health
Godbey examines the health benefits of being outdoors, including the role these activities play instress reduction. He also examines outdoor recreation as it relates to specific children’s health issues,including obesity and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and how spending time outdoors canbenefit children with these health challenges. Godbey investigates children’s connection with natureand the many variables that impact children’s outdoor play. He discusses different approaches tomeasuring physical activity and participation in outdoor recreation, as well as recent trends in park  visitation and outdoor activity participation. He also highlights numerous factors that impactparticipation in outdoor activities, including amount of leisure time, proximity to outdoor space,safety of parks, and park and playground design. Throughout the review, Godbey highlights specificresearch gaps that could help guide future efforts. He also discusses changing demographics as they relate to outdoor recreation and what these changes may mean in terms of successful policymaking.
 Author Affiliation: Geoffrey Godbey is with Resources for the Future.
Focus: Literature Reviews & Overview Documents 
 These articles and documents synthesize the literature related to children’s contact with theoutdoors and nature and, in many cases, highlight children’s contact as it relates to educationalsettings.
 
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2012 Children & Nature Network Page 3
Godbey, G. (2009).
Outdoor Recreation, Health, and Wellness: Understanding and Enhancing the Relationship 
. Washington DC: Resources for the Future.
 This report is available online at:http://www.rff.org/documents/RFF-DP-09-21.pdf  
(Volume 5)
 
Green environments are essential to human health
 In this report, Kuo reviews evidence of the benefits that nature contact provides to our health. Kuobegins by discussing the development of nature-human health research and how in the last decaderesearch has become incredibly diverse and rigorous. As a result of the research that has beenconducted to date, she concludes that green environments are essential to human health. In the bulk of the report, Kuo reviews evidence of the benefits that nature contact provides to our social,psychological, and physical health. In each major section, she discusses evidence from a sampling of relevant studies that are diverse and of high quality. For example, she reviews evidence that naturecontact promotes healthier social behavior and lessens social dysfunction, helps alleviate stress,improves resilience, promotes optimal psychological functioning, improves recovery from physicaltrauma, and reduces mortality. Kuo discusses current ideas on how nature might promote humanhealth, including the role of physical activity, immune functioning, and stress reduction. She alsodiscusses a set of larger themes that have emerged from the literature, such as that greenenvironments must be experienced to have positive health impacts and that nature contact can takemany forms and occur at many different dosage levels. Kuo concludes her report by providing specific recommendations on how to increase people’s nature contact and its associated healthbenefits by: 1) providing as much nature, in as many forms as possible; 2) bringing nature to people;and 3) bringing people to nature.
 Author Affiliation: Frances Kuo is with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Kuo, F. E. (2010).
Parks and other green environments: essential components of a healthy human habitat 
: National Recreation and Park Association.
This report is available online at:http://www.nrpa.org/uploadedFiles/Explore_Parks_and_Recreation/Research/Ming%20(Kuo)%20Reserach%20Paper-Final-150dpi.pdf  
(Volume 5)
 
Nature provides a variety of mental health and well-being benefits
 Townsend and Weerasuriya review the literature on the relationship between nature and health and well-being, with a specific focus on mental health and well-being. To conduct their review, theauthors examined peer-reviewed journal articles, grey literature, and books, with an emphasis onarticles published in the last decade. Townsend and Weerasuriya provide a very thorough anddetailed report covering a range of valuable topics. The authors begin by discussing major theoriesabout why or how nature contact impacts human health and well-being, including the biophiliahypothesis and attention restoration theory. The authors then review physical, mental, and socialhealth benefits associated with nature contact, including benefits for specific populations (e.g.,children and the elderly). Townsend and Weerasuriya then move on to discuss the benefits of naturecontact to mental health for the population in general, as well as specific populations (e.g., children,prisoners, and indigenous populations). The authors then review specific types of landscapes andtheir therapeutic mental health impacts, including local parks, forests and gardens, as well asdifferent therapeutic approaches, including wilderness therapy and horticulture therapy. Townsendand Weerasuriya also discuss evidence concerning impacts to mental health from animal contact,

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