Kids need nature. Nature needs kids.

Regular time in nature can make kids healthier, happier, smarter and better stewards of the environment.

The benefits of time spent outdoors are well documented by a growing body of scientific evidence, curated by the Children & Nature Network and the North American Association for Environmental Education.

  • Children who play and learn outdoors are more active and physically fit.
  • Playing outdoors promotes core strength, balance and agility, and the development of gross motor skills. 
  • Mothers who live in greener neighborhoods have healthier birth weight babies.
  • Time spent in bright sunlight is required for the development of healthy vision; myopia in children has risen 25% over the past 40 years and is directly linked to kids not spending time outdoors.
  • Multiple studies show that spending time outdoors together strengthens family bonds. 
  • Spending time in nature reduces stress and anxiety, promotes positive moods, and improves the social functioning of children. 
  • Unstructured outdoor recreation provides opportunities to take risks, develop problem solving skills and build self esteem.
  • The greater the amount of nature exposure, the greater the benefits.
  • Kids who participate in regular environmental education and outdoor learning opportunities have higher academic achievement.
  • Regular physical activity, which tends to be greater outdoors, improves brain function in children.
  • Kids who learn and play in natural environments have better performance in reading, math, science and social studies.
  • Children who have regular access to the outdoors have enhanced creativity and executive function, fewer behavior problems, and increased engagement and enthusiasm for learning.
  • A personal connection to nature in childhood carries over into adulthood.
  • Time spent outdoors develops a conservation ethic in children

Explore the Research

North American Association for Environmental Education’s eeResearch

Comprehensive collection of research on environmental education and literacy.

Children & Nature Network’s Research Library

Comprehensive collection of research documenting the benefits of spending time in nature.

Policy Idea Library

Compilation of policy ideas to support, establish, and fund youth outdoor engagement.

Research Digest

Access Children & Nature Network’s monthly Research Digest, summarizing the most up to date research.


Health and Wellbeing

Nature Play

Academic Outcomes