Research from the Children & Nature Network

The Children & Nature Network has set out to compile a premier set of research studies to help us understand what’s best for children’s healthy development.  From CEC Steering Committee member Cheryl Charles.

Cheryl Charles, CEC Member

Parents and grandparents, friends, family, teachers, physicians and concerned citizens—people want to do what is right and best for children.

Keith Wheeler, CEC Chair, sent me a great article about a primitive trip with a sophisticated goal: to understand how heavy use of digital devices and other technology changes how we think and behave, and how a retreat into nature might reverse those effects ("Outdoors and Out of Reach, Studying the Brain" by Matt Richtel for the New York Times). In response, I would like to share three recent publications from my organization that summarize key research and studies related to children and nature.

  • Children’s Nature Deficit: What We Know – and Don’t Know

A growing body of evidence suggests that significant changes in childhood have occurred over the past several decades relating to children’s experiences in nature. While there are always exceptions, there are strong indicators of an absence of direct experience with the natural world in many children’s everyday lives.Download >>

  • Children's Contact with the Outdoors and Nature: A focus on educators and educational settings

These annotated bibliographies of research and studies synthesize the literature in two areas: (1) Benefits to children from contact with the outdoors and nature and (2) Children’s experience of the outdoors and nature. Download >>

  • Health Benefits to Children from Contact with the Outdoors and Nature

These articles summarize literature related to outdoor and nature contact and children’s health and well-being, with a focus on (1) mental health and (2) physical health. Download >>

More research

The Children & Nature Network has assembled more than 100 research studies in the past few years that shed light on many dimensions of the growing disconnect with nature among many people throughout the world, and the indicators of the benefits to people from nature-based experiences.  Those studies are assembled in four annotated bibliographies on our web site under

For more information, visit the Children & Nature Network website >>  

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