No Child Left Inside - Virginia

Benefits of Environmental Education

Student in wheelchair holding cup withGroup of students. Photo copyright Chesapeake Bay FoundationEnvironmental Education has been proven to benefit children's mental, academic, physical and emotional well-being.

Mental/Academic:

  • Schools with environmental education programs score higher on standardized tests in math, reading, writing and listening.
  • Exposure to environment-based education significantly increases student performance on tests of their critical thinking skills.

Physical

  • Childhood obesity rates have more than doubled the last 20 years; the United States has become the largest consumer of ADHD medications in the world; and pediatric prescriptions for antidepressants have risen precipitously.
  • Outdoor play increases fitness levels and builds active, healthy bodies, an important strategy in helping the one in three American kids who are obese get fit.
  • Spending time outside raises levels of Vitamin D, helping protect children from future bone problems, heart disease, diabetes and other health issues.
  • Being out there improves distance vision and lowers the chance of nearsightedness.

Emotional

  • Exposure to natural settings may be widely effective in reducing ADHD symptoms.
  • Children's stress levels fall within minutes of seeing green spaces.
  • Play protects children's emotional development whereas loss of free time and a hurried lifestyle can contribute to anxiety and depression.
  • Nature makes you nicer, enhancing social interactions, value for community and close relationships.

Browse more scientific studies here.

Reprinted with permission of the National Wildlife Federation

Photo © Chesapeake Bay Foundation