Children running in nature Children running in nature

Does nature impact child development?

29 March 2023

The benefits of nature are well known, but does it contribute toward child development? 

Not only does nature increase our ability to cope with stress and is associated with lower levels of poor mental health such as depression and anxiety - it also facilitates child development. 




Nature and Development  


The more commonly known benefits of nature are increased positive emotions such as calmness, joy, and creativity. But that’s not all - there are so many more! 

Here are a few:


1. Cognitive functioning  


Experts at Harvard have found that regular time in nature can be an effective way to improve children’s executive functioning skills, helping them to become better at planning, prioritisation, multitasking, and an increased attention span among other things (Harvard Medical School).

Higher cognitive functioning can have significant benefits for children's academic and social success, as well as their overall well-being.  


2. Academic performance  


Nature may promote learning by improving children’s attention, levels of stress, self-discipline, interest, and enjoyment in learning. The Environment as the Integrating Context (EIC) study (focusing on 40 schools) found that environmental-based education resulted in: 

  • Higher grades and better reading, writing and math scores 
  • Fewer disciplinary problems 
  • Increased engagement and enthusiasm 
  • Pride and ownership in accomplishments  


3. Social skills  


Spending time in green spaces can be an important factor in promoting children’s social and emotional development. It allows children to connect with others, build relationships, and develop a sense of self-worth, which can have long-lasting benefits for their well-being and success in life (Nurture UK).


That’s pretty amazing!  


Nature’s Contribution to Society  


As illustrated above, nature can improve development in children. As children grow, this increase in development can result in higher school attainment and lead to greater opportunities in the future, providing children with more ways to effectively contribute to their wellbeing, the community and our planet.  


The Country Trust 


We all eat and therefore we are all connected to farming. How food is produced impacts climate change, personal health, and the health of our planet, yet the disconnect between society and food and farming is growing ever more distant. All our programmes aim to reduce or remove barriers for children to access outdoor, nature-inspired, hands-on learning. We provide children with a unique opportunity to develop a holistic understanding of the interdependence between the natural world and farming, to encourage a deeper connection between what they eat and where it comes from.  


Learn more about our programmes here. 

Coordinator teaching children in nature
Children digging in soil
Children smiling holding pumpkins