A recent study from King’s College London, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine suggests that the elevated rates of myopia, or short-sightedness, may be related to keeping children inside. This new study of over 3000 volunteers found strong correlations between current eyesight and volunteers’ lifetime exposure to sunlight. The research joins a growing body of research indicating that a lack of direct sunlight may reshape the human eye and impair vision.
Nature preschools, or preprimary schools where children spend all or part of their days outdoors, are on the rise in the United States with close to 250 nature preschools open across the country. According to the Natural Start Alliance, a coalition supporting early childhood and environmental education, only a few dozen nature preschools operated in the United States just five years ago. However, some experts see room for improvement in such schools, particularly regarding access for many urban and economically disadvantaged children.
The National Park Service reports that visits to U.S. national parks is on track to surpass 325 million in 2016, breaking the all-time high of 307 million set in 2015. The increased interest is likely due to a major marketing campaign launched by the National Park Service to celebrate its 100th birthday in 2016, including free passes for every fourth-grader and their families. The Parks Service says the increased visitation is good news but it also brings challenges for the Park Service such as overcrowded roads and trails and increasing visitor misbehavior.
In Melbourne, “simulated outdoor environments” in schools— or indoor areas simulating the outdoors— are under debate. Educators cite research establishing the developmental benefits of the outdoors and nature to children in complaints to the Australian Education Union regarding its approval of childcare centers without outdoor space. Proponents of indoor spaces stress the all-season functionality of the approach.
A recent survey shows that Korean kids lead lives that may be too busy for outdoor play. More than 83 percent of 5-year-olds and 36 percent of 2-year-olds in South Korea receive private education, often in the form of tutoring. In some cases, 5-year-olds receive up to four hours of extra classes a day after their regular kindergarten program, revealed data released earlier this week by the Korea Institute of Child Care. In addition, some experts say playgrounds are not stimulating enough for the children, fostering a preference for computer games and mobile phone chatting than outdoor play.
A study conducted by LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health is the first to demonstrate that parents who are concerned about their neighborhoods restrict their children’s outdoor play. The study is published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
Outdoor learning can have a positive impact on children’s development but it needs to be formally adopted, a report from UK researchers suggests. The report showed that, although there was a significant body of research that supports outdoor learning in both formal and informal contexts, outdoor learning was likely to remain on the margins of education until the benefits were recognized by policymakers and reflected in policies.