The Outdoor Discovery Centre, Macatawa Greenway, developed a nature-based program intervention to improve the health and well-being of pre-school
children and their families. As part of the intervention, naturalist educators visited six preschools on a weekly basis to deliver an hour-long lesson
focused on a science concept that was taught through outdoor activities.
To understand the impact of the intervention on students, a number of health and well-being measures were set for over 100 pre-school students,
between the ages of 3 and 5, both prior to, and up to 6 months after, the intervention began. An experimental group that received the intervention,
as well as a control group that did not receive the intervention, were studied.
Researchers measured children’s blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), activity preferences, self-efficacy and early literacy skills. In analysing
the data for the experimental and control groups, researchers found there was a more significant and positive relationship between activity preferences
and self-efficacy and early literacy skills for the experimental group as compared to the control group, indicating that children with more active
preferences tended to improve more with regard to self-efficacy and early literacy skills.
There have been numerous other studies into the health and development of children. It has been proven that the amount of time children spend outside
boosts their development, learning and health levels more than classroom based studying.
If you were to recount your most treasured memories of childhood play, few will be indoors. Fewer still will involve an adult. Independent play,
outdoors, is what we remember. As things stand, today’s children will be unlikely to treasure memories like that with 21% of today’s children regularly
playing outside, compared with 71% of their parents.
Free and unstructured play in the outdoors boosts problem-solving skills, focus and self-discipline. Socially, it improves cooperation, flexibility,
and self-awareness. Emotional benefits include reduced aggression and increased happiness.
“Children will be smarter, better able to get along with others, healthier and happier when they have regular opportunities for free and unstructured
play in the out-of-doors”
Concluded one authoritative study published by the American Medical Association in 2005.
“Just five minutes’ “green exercise” can produce rapid improvements in mental wellbeing and self-esteem, with the greatest benefits experienced by
According to a study at the University of Essex.
Exercise and outdoor activities have been proven to help children who suffer with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Physical activity
helps suffering children to concentrate more and enables problem solving tasks to be completed quicker and more accurately.