Nature as Healer and Teacher - The Importance of Reconnecting Children to the Earth for Physical and Emotional Wellbeing

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Montgomery, Jodie
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Current research indicates that many children exhibit symptoms of nature deficit disorder (NDD), a condition that describes the growing gap between children and the time they spend in nature (Louv, 2008). NDD may be related to the increasing number of children diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety, obesity and other psychological and physical problems. Connected to this issue is the fact that children spend more time watching television and video games than ever before and this may be contributing negatively to their overall health. This paper aims to provide a background to the topic of NDD, followed by a comprehensive literature review. The question investigated throughout is if unstructured time spent in nature can improve children's overall physical and emotional health as well as their ability to learn. The review will highlight the research available on the benefits that nature provides for children in the areas of: psychological and physical health, environmental stewardship, outdoor learning and school gardens. There is an abundant amount of evidence to give credence to the idea that children need to be reconnected to nature in order to be fully healthy and reach their potentials. Recommendations are suggested to increase the connection between children and nature to promote overall health and wellbeing.
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