Why Kids
Need Nature
In recent years, educators have become more aware of the importance of
taking children outdoors for play, learning, and even rest time. Books like Last
Child in the Woods by Richard Louv have spurred new interest among educators
and parents in the role of nature in young children’s lives. Many adults can
recall childhood memories filled with experiences in the outdoors, from build-
ing forts and playing in secret worlds to climbing trees, swinging from branches,
swimming in cool lakes, and hiking and camping with family. These memories
are some of the most powerful and potent for many of us, and that has led to
a sense of alarm as we have watched today’s chil-
dren become increasingly separated from nature.

Whether the result of a lack of resources, compet-
ing demands for children’s attention, or shifting
parental attitudes toward time in the outdoors, the
evidence is clear: children these days are spending
less time outdoors than children from generations
past. There are significant implications for how this
may affect children’s growing sense of connection
to the outdoors, their sense of stewardship, rela-
tionships with animals, and even relationships
with other children. It also has implications for
their own social-emotional development, physical
and mental health, and ability to manage stress.

The good news is that more and more educa-
tors and parents are becoming aware of the value
of nature and are searching for increased opportu-
nities to get children outdoors. There has been an
Climbing trees can become a cherished childhood
memory. increase in resources for teachers looking to link