The great outdoors were lost upon kids to an extent even before the pandemic hit. With screens taking over our lives, it was a task on its own to get the kids to go out and play on their own. Perils of the digital age you may say.
In fact, the older generation often laments how spending more time outdoors helped them build strong immunity. This meant better physical development and a stronger resistance too.
Well, the forefathers certainly knew a thing or two with a new study supporting this. The study says that spending time in nature can actually help your young kids hit their milestones on time. It can also reduce the adverse developmental effects of traffic-related exposures and air pollution.
Having said this, do remember that every child is different and your little one will reach their milestones at their own pace.
That being said, there’s no denying the importance of nature in child development. Parents grow anxious when kids miss their milestones but there are other factors to consider as well.
In fact, the finds of this study might just encourage you into green spaces more often.
Importance Of Nature In Child Development: Kids To Hit Their Milestones
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While interacting with nature is good for our physical and mental health, the new study’s findings reveal that it also aids in child development.
The study conducted by the University of British Columbia found that babies who live in areas with high exposure to “greenspace” may have an advantage in hitting their milestones.
Researchers looked at the developmental scores of more than 27,000 children in kindergarten. They also looked at the amount of green space they have been exposed to between birth and up to five years old.
The last factor they looked at was the amount of air pollution and community noise present in their environment.
Does Nature Really Help?
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The results revealed that the importance of nature in child development is immense. Children need lots of natural green spaces like trees, parks and community gardens to grow.
Ingrid Jarvis, one of the authors of the study, stated that most of the children in the study were doing well in their development.
However, children who had more exposure to nature as infants and toddlers showed better overall development than their peers did. While more research needs to be done to confirm this working theory, researchers are confident in their results.
The new study throws light on the importance of taking young children out on walks. It also reminds you to let them explore the natural world.
Matilda van den Bosch, the study’s senior author, summed up by saying, “Time in nature can benefit everyone but if we want our kids to have a good head start, it’s important to provide an enriching environment through nature contact. Kids having access to greenspace from a young age can help them ensure good social, emotional and mental development among children.”
The interpretation of the study was that an increase in exposure to residential greenspace might improve childhood development.
The study says one can achieve this by reducing the detrimental developmental effects of traffic-related exposures, especially NO2 (Nitrogen Dioxide).
This study further supports the implementation of healthy urban planning and green infrastructure interventions.
Impact Of COVID-19 On Child Development
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Epidemics or even pandemics, such as coronavirus, produce potential risks to a child’s development due to the risk of infection, social isolation, and increased stress levels on the parents and caregivers.
This situation turns into an adverse childhood experience and may generate toxic stress. It may lead to a consequent potential loss for brain development and the long-term impairment of cognition, mental and physical health.
It can also impair the working capacity of future adults.
With schools shifted online and kids restricted in homes, there’s been a massive impact on the mental development of kids due to the pandemic.
The disruption of playdates with friends, physical schools and other normal routines, has given rise to regressive behaviours.
Your kid might have difficulty with the skill which they had previously mastered. This can include something as basic as potty training or even managing their feelings.
Plan more visits to the great outdoors
The parental guilt has also intensified during the pandemic. As a result of this, you often feel concerned about your children’s social isolation. You are constantly worrying about your child’s social skills, play opportunities and learning.
It’s an extremely stressful time for parents as well. But it’s important to hang in there or else you might end up putting undue pressure and stress on your kids.
Nevertheless, we now have the opportunity to right the wrongs and make a conscious effort to take our kids outdoors. With Singapore’s expansive number of gardens, nature trails, and connector parks, there’s enough to explore for you.
It will only help them increase physical activity and explore their personal limits too in the great outdoors. While not every child will necessarily meet milestones on the same date, you can surely enhance their experience by exposing them to greenspaces.
Source: Lancet, Unicef
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