We’ve shared the importance of kids being outdoors before, but new research from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign identifies eight ways that incorporating nature-based instruction into kids’ daily school activities promotes better learning. The researchers were skeptical that nature-based teaching would be more effective than traditional teaching methods, so they were surprised at the convincing picture presented by the data.

Here are the eight ways research demonstrated that contact with nature can improve learning:

  1. Nature has rejuvenating effects on attention.
  2. Nature relieves stress.
  3. Contact with nature (and animals) boosts self-discipline.
  4. Student motivation, enjoyment, and engagement are better in natural settings.
  5. Time outdoors is tied to higher levels of physical activity and fitness.
  6. Nature may boost learning by providing a more supportive context for learning.
  7. Vegetated settings tend to produce calmer, quieter, safer contexts for learning.
  8. Natural settings seem to foster warmer, more cooperative relations.

How can your child’s school incorporate nature into the classroom? The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has two grants:

In addition, the 2019 Illinois PTA Convention in Champaign on May 3-4 will feature a workshop, Growing Opportunities: Team Building and Experiential Learning in School Gardens. The workshop will cover how to build, maintain, and teach with a school garden. Don’t miss out, register today.

Photo courtesy of the US Air Force by Melissa Peterson.