The latest edition of the Children and Nature Network research digest can be downloaded here.

There is a lot in here under 6 headings:

  • Access to Nature
  • Benefits of Green Environments
  • Birth Outcomes
  • Environmental Knowledge, Attitudes & Behaviors
  • Play & Playgrounds
  • Enhancing the Impact of Research

The following caught our eye:

Children use greater cognitive resources while indoors than outdoors in nature to achieve the same level of performance on tasks requiring attention and inhibitory control

This experimental study compared children’s neural responses while performing cognitive tasks in outdoor natural settings and indoor environments. Results showed significantly less neurological activity outdoors versus indoors, suggesting that some cognitive processes may take less effort outdoors compared to indoors. Results also suggest that natural environments can be restorative with respect to executive functions.

Torquati, Schutte & Kiat, 2017. Attentional demands of executive function tasks in indoor and outdoor settings: Behavioral and neuroelectrical evidence.  Access study here

Higher levels of tree canopy are linked to higher reading test scores

A study of relationships between urban nature and the academic performance of 222 urban schools in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area of Minnesota demonstrated a significant, positive relationship between tree cover and reading performance. Increasing tree cover in student environments should be considered as one strategy to support academic success.

Hodson & Sander, 2017. Green urban landscapes and school-level academic performance.  Access study here

Independence and social connections influence whether or not children visit biodiverse spaces in urban environments

A total of 187 children living in similarly biodiverse neighborhoods shared information about places they accessed on their own and answered knowledge-based questions relating to nature in their urban neighborhoods. Ethnicity had the strongest relationship to nature knowledge, but social connections and independence were strong predictors of whether or not children actually visited biodiverse spaces.

Freeman et al. 2017. City children’s nature knowledge and contact: It is not just about biodiversity provision.  Access study here

Children’s outdoor play is influenced by factors beyond time and space opportunities

This study examined why children in a more disadvantaged community rated their opportunities to play higher than children in a less disadvantaged community.  Focus group discussions indicated that simply having more places to play isn’t automatically an indicator of satisfaction.  Fear, socio-economic conditions and how play is valued also influence children’s freedom and opportunities to play outdoors.

Long, 2017. It’s not just about “more”: A research project exploring satisfaction with opportunities to play, for children in two Welsh neighbouring communities.  Access study here

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