Nurture for Nature: Physiological and Psychological Correlates in Preschool Children

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Sonja Trent-Brown, Hope College
Professor Vicki Voskuil, Hope College
Dr. Steven Smith, Hope College
Dr. Mark Northuis, Hope College

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This material is based upon work supported by the Hope College-Howard Hughes Medical Institute Faculty Development Grants for Interdisciplinary Research under grant No. G00024963.


Research has suggested that in addition to biosocial factors, children’s affective, cognitive, and psychosocial development has begun to suffer because of the decrease in their direct experiences with nature. Multifactorial influences have given rise to this lack of natural contact. The numerous contributing dynamics cited include increased pollution, declining access to open, green spaces, reductions in biodiversity, the transformation of natural habitats to synthetic environments, urban sprawl, and the progressive movement of families and communities away from nature (Kellert, 2005). Further evidence suggests that children who spend at least one hour each week outdoors enjoy improved health, emotional wellbeing, and cognitive growth in comparison to peers who spend less time outside. This study presents findings detailing the relationship between measures of preschool children’s physical health, cognitive processing, self-efficacy and activity preferences.

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