Nature contact at school: The impact of an outdoor classroom on children's well-being

Int J Environ Health Res. 2018 Dec;28(6):653-666. doi: 10.1080/09603123.2018.1502415. Epub 2018 Jul 26.


Nature contact facilitates healthy child development and a disconnect with nature presents potential health risks. This study was designed to test a nature intervention at an elementary school among children. An experimental crossover design was implemented over six weeks; two teachers taught their respective kindergarten classes the daily language arts lesson in either the control (indoor classroom) or nature treatment (outdoor classroom) conditions. Child well-being measures were compared in the two conditions. Teachers' redirections of child behavior were significantly fewer in the nature condition (t = 2.49, p < 0.05) compared to the control. Also, fewer children were off task in the nature condition on average. There were mixed well-being results; children reported no significance difference in happiness in the two conditions, but teachers reported modest benefit in child well-being in the nature condition. The outdoor classroom is a promising method for increasing nature contact and promoting student well-being.

Keywords: Nature contact intervention; children; green school; outdoor classroom.

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / physiology
  • Child Behavior / psychology
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Child Welfare / psychology*
  • Child Welfare / statistics & numerical data
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • School Teachers
  • Schools*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data