Time in a Natural Setting Enhances Children’s Learning

Time in a Natural Setting Enhances Children’s Learning
The start of the school year doesn't have to mean the end of time outdoors.

Many parents, teachers and schools are finding ways to keep kids connected to nature all year.

"It may be even more important for kids to be connected to nature during the school year than just in the summer," says Richard Louv, author of the new "Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life" (Algonquin Books) and the best-selling "Last Child in the Woods" (Algonquin, 2008).

"Amid all the focus on technology, we've been missing something quite elemental," Louv says.

Just a walk through an urban park, he says, can help kids' performance in school. "I can't tell you how many times teachers who bring their classes into natural settings say that the troublemaker in class is the very one that turns out to have leadership qualities in the woods," he says.

Sarah Milligan-Toffler, executive director of the Children and Nature Network, a Minneapolis-based non-profit, says that getting kids connected to nature doesn't have to mean a major outing.

"There is something about natural environments that is really stress-reducing," she says, "even if it's just 10 minutes a day in a neighborhood park or planting a pollinator garden."

Many botanical gardens, parks and nature centers offer after-school and weekend programs, and are helping schools bring environmental awareness into the classroom, too.

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