Washington: According to a recent study, spending some quality time enjoying nature helps in boosting the learning abilities of children. The results of the study were published in the journal 'Frontiers in Psychology'.
The researchers found that nature boosts learning in eight distinct ways. They found strong evidence that time in nature has a rejuvenating effect on attention, relieving stress, boosting self-discipline, increasing physical activity and fitness, and promoting self-motivation to students, enjoyment, and engagement and all of these have been showed to improve learning.
Ming Kuo, the lead author of the study explained, “It is time to take nature seriously as a resource for learning, in fact, the trend of increasing indoor instruction in hopes of maximizing standardized test performance may be doing more harm than good."
While none of these effects is entirely new, the analysis represents the first time all of the lines of evidence have been pulled together. Collectively, the findings make a much stronger case for the importance of time in nature. They also provide an explanation for something that has been puzzling scientists in the field - why even small doses of nature sometimes have surprisingly large effects.
The researchers said that the key is to see how these effects work together, in individual students and in classrooms. If something not only makes a student more attentive but also less stressed and more interested, then we can see how it could have had a large effect on their learning. Furthermore, if we put a bunch of kids in a classroom and they're all attentive, absorbed, and interested, that sounds like a different classroom than one where they're all stressed, agitated, not getting along.
These effects extend beyond academic achievement, according to the study. Time in nature appears to foster personal skills and qualities important for future success and may play a critical role in helping children grow up to be environmental stewards.
"Reports from independent observers as well as participants themselves - indicate beneficial shifts in perseverance, problem-solving, critical thinking, leadership, teamwork, and resilience. All of these line up with skills we know are important for kids' ability to thrive in the 21st century," said Catherine Jordan, the co-author on the study.
The analysis also suggested multiple benefits of greening schoolyards and incorporating nature-based instruction in schools. "Even small exposures to nature are beneficial. If you're indoors, having a view of your yard as opposed to facing the wall, that makes a difference. At the same time, more is better. That's one of the things that gives us more confidence that we're seeing a real cause-and-effect relationship," Kuo said.
"The bigger the dose of nature we give a person, the bigger the effect we see in them," Kuo added. Nature creates a calmer, quieter, and safer setting for learning, fosters warmer, more cooperative relations among students and promotes more creative and more exploratory forms of playing and learning simultaneously.