Is contact with nature important for healthy child development? state of the evidence

Andrea Faber Taylor, Frances E. Kuo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


We know that children need nature … or do we? There are certainly many reasons to think that nature plays an important role in child development. For many of us, intuition emphatically asserts that nature is good for children. We hold intuitions such as, ‘every kid needs a dog’, ‘children need a nice yard to play in’, and ‘children need “fresh air”’. Beyond these intuitions, there are also well-reasoned theoretical arguments as to why humans in general – and therefore children – might have an inborn need for contact with nature (e.g., S. Kaplan, 1995; Wilson, 1984). And there is a growing body of qualitative research consistent with this idea (Bardill, 1997; Hart, 1979; R. Moore, 1989; R. C. Moore, 1986; Nabhan, 1994; Sebba, 1991; Sobel, 1993; Titman, 1994). But what do we really know about the value of nature in promoting child development? What systematic evidence is there for or against this possibility? Is children's need for nature established fact, yet-to-be-substantiated folk theory, or simply myth? The question of nature's role in healthy child development is increasingly urgent. A consistent concern among the researchers studying children and nature is that children's access to nature is rapidly diminishing (e.g., Kahn, 2002; Kellert, 2002; Pyle, 2002; Rivkin, 2000). Not only may there be less nature for children to access, but children's access of what remains may be increasingly sporadic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationChildren and their Environments
Subtitle of host publicationLearning, Using and Designing Spaces
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780511521232
ISBN (Print)9780521837781
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Is contact with nature important for healthy child development? state of the evidence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this