Greener Childhood Associated With Happier Adulthood

Social-Emotional Learning at the Vancouver Waldorf School. Children working together to build a garden box.

Access to the outdoors in childhood has been proven by new research to be strongly associated with happiness, mental health, and overall well-being in adulthood. That’s why at the Vancouver Waldorf School, we prioritize outdoor learning and recreation for our students. Outdoor spaces provide excellent opportunities for movement, exploration, and curiosity, and they help our students feel balanced, refreshed, and ready to learn.

Childhood is a critical time for development, and recent studies highlighted by NPR have shown that access to nature during this period has lifelong benefits. Exposure to green spaces in childhood has been linked to improved mental health, reduced stress, increased physical activity, and enhanced cognitive development. Time spent in nature has also been associated with better attention span, creativity, problem-solving, and social skills.

At the Vancouver Waldorf School, we recognize the importance of nature in the development of the whole child – mind, body, and spirit. Outdoor learning is an integral part of our educational approach. Our students have the opportunity to experience the changing seasons, observe plants and animals, and interact with the natural world in all weather conditions. These experiences promote a deep appreciation and understanding of nature and contribute to our students’ emotional, physical, and cognitive well-being.

We encourage our students to engage with nature through various activities such as gardening, land stewardship, hiking, camping, and other outdoor adventures. Unstructured play in nature is also prioritized, allowing children to freely explore, create, and imagine in natural environments. Our outdoor spaces are intentionally designed to be inviting, engaging, and safe for students to explore and interact with nature, serving as invaluable resources for learning, play, and fostering a connection with the natural world.

Outdoor learning in Waldorf schools goes beyond acquiring knowledge. Being in nature allows students to connect with the natural world, develop a sense of awe and wonder, and cultivate a reverence for life. Outdoor learning encourages the use of senses, engagement in hands-on experiences, and the development of a deep appreciation for the environment. It also promotes physical activity, social interaction, and emotional well-being, helping students develop into balanced and healthy individuals. At the Vancouver Waldorf School, we believe that prioritizing outdoor learning and recreation is essential for the development of our students.

Read the NPR article by Jonathan Lambert

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