In Denmark we have what we call “Forest Kindergarten” where children spend their Kindergarten time outside in a forest all year round. Here in Copenhagen where there is no forest the children are picked up by buses and taken to the forest.
I hear from my friends who have their children in such Forest Kindergartens that the children seems to be very happy, there should be less bullying and the children should develop a better motor coordination than children in conventional Kindergartens. It is quit interesting and I researched a little to find out what the research say about the benefits for children of being in nature. Here is what I found:
Children who play regularly in natural environments show more advanced motor fitness, including coordination, balance and agility, and they are sick less often (Grahn, et al. 1997, Fjortoft & Sageie 2001).
When children play in natural environments, their play is more diverse with imaginative and creative play that fosters language and collaborative skills (Moore & Wong 1997, Taylor, et al. 1998, Fjortoft 2000).
Exposure to natural environments improves children’s cognitive development by improving their awareness, reasoning and observational skills (Pyle 2002).
Play in a diverse natural environment reduces or eliminates bullying (Malone & Tranter 2003).
Early experiences with the natural world have been positively linked with the development of imagination and the sense of wonder (Cobb 1977, Louv 1991). Wonder is an important motivator for life long learning (Wilson 1997).
Children who play in nature have more positive feelings about each other (Moore 1996).
Outdoor environments are important to children’s development of independence and autonomy (Bartlett 1996).
Play in outdoor environments stimulates all aspects of children development more readily than indoor environments (Moore & Wong 1997).
These and more findings have been collected by Randy White at this website.
The image is taken when I was little – my class was on an exploration trip to the forest. Here we find different forest lake insects.