Thursday, June 7, 2007

Nature Study

We’ve all heard this and that about how kids need to get out in nature. Charlotte Mason advocated it ruthlessly—demanding we take a book and go sit outside somewhere natural (even if we have to take a twenty minute train ride every day to get there) and let them experience nature. Mason’s brilliant, high achieving students did the nature thing. They excelled academically, though they spent the greater portion of their lives outdoors.

Recent research shows us that Mason had the right idea. As it turns out, the kids excelled academically in a large part BECAUSE they spent so much time in nature. Numerous studies show that regular intervals into the natural world improve a person’s mental and emotional quotient. Children who spend more time in nature actually do better academically and emotionally. Before and after studies showed improvement in all areas of development.

A study done in California utilized several schools that had similar achievement scores. They took a few schools and removed their playground equipment, turning the school grounds into a natural garden. All the students were given more time outside. Standardized test scores went up significantly higher in the schools that had a natural environment. They found that students with ADD displayed fewer symptoms and also that there was less aggression among the students.

So if you really want to make your kids smarter—do the nature thing.

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