Happy New Year everyone! One of my resolutions for 2015 is to spend more time outdoors, taking in the wonder and beauty of the natural world. Nature has a host of benefits for the mind and body. From an educational perspective, children who spend more time playing in green spaces tend to play more actively, creatively, and cooperatively (Dyment & Bell, 2007). As outlined in a 2010 National Wildlife Federation report, outdoor time improves classroom behavior, motivation to learn, and cognitive abilities. It also leads to gains across all disciplines in academic performance.
From a health perspective, exposure to nature reduces stress. It also can increase mindfulness, a concept I blogged about back in October that has a host of benefits for education.
Living in the concrete jungle that is Manhattan, it’s often hard to get to green spaces. However, there are many beautiful parks if one knows where to go. I’m lucky enough to live very close to Central Park, which is where I spend a lot of my time outdoors. Other spaces I’ve enjoyed include the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and Riverside Park.
For a glimpse of nature’s beauty and a discussion of the wonder of our natural world, I suggest watching this TED talk by Louie Schwartzberg called Nature. Beauty. Gratitude. Schwartzberg uses time-lapse photography. He films for a month for a 4-minute roll of film, and captures the movement of natural growth such as the birth of flowers or fruits. As Schwartzberg suggests, nature can make you mindful and keep you in the present. It elicits a certain connectedness to the universe. He urges the importance of opening our eyes and viewing the world around us.
If you would like to join me in this resolution, spend some time outside. And let me know what your resolutions are for 2015!