Fundamentally, exposing children to the natural environment has been associated with benefits both physical and mental, since time immemorial. Notably, the rise of technology has led to a major decline in outdoor activities among children. This is as a result of technological devices that are used by children during their leisure time. Playing has taken a new connotation among the young generation, in the sense that many children are seen to enjoy their leisure time indoors playing video games. In the pre-industrialization era, children were exposed to active games whereby they were highly involved, i such as kick ball that took place in the natural environment. This way, children got to work on muscle coordination, negotiation, diplomacy and perception while playing. Currently, many children are found to suffer from various disabilities as they are not exposed to active exertion, where they can get an opportunity to connect with the real world. During these fragile developmental stages, children should connect with the natural environment by engaging in various activities.
Several research projects have been conducted, trying to understand some of the impacts associated with exposing children to the natural environment. Most importantly the research conducted by Brockman and his team realized the need to come up with various activities for the more or less dormant children living in the United Kingdom. It was clear that they are not being exposed to certain physical activities of which are crucial for physical and mental growth. They focused on some of the determinants that greatly impact a child’s active play and other physical activities (Brockman, Jago, & Fox, 2011). The team also focused on finding out whether some of these determinants can be useful in increasing the amount of time a child engages in active play
Considering the research conducted by Christian, certain genetic, biological and psychological factors heavily weigh in during childhood development. Most of the people entrusted with bringing up children are not aware that the physical environment to which the children are exposed have a great impact in their development. This way, there is a great need for research on how both the indoor environment and outdoor areas impact a child’s health. Notably, the kind of environment a child is exposed to will greatly determine the kind of activities they are involved in, thus determining their lifestyle and health (Christian et al, 2015). Due to this, great care should be taken to ensure that children are in a position to grow in an environment that shapes their health positively.
Similarly, many children do not have an opportunity to be properly exposed to the natural environment. As a result, they are not in a position to enjoy some of the mental and physical benefits that come along (Trent-Brown et al, 2011). In order to research into this problem, the team focused on some of the health benefits that come along with exposing children to the real world. This way, they will most likely be in a position to offer information that will be of great help to the public as they create awareness on some of these benefits. In addition, by giving these children a chance to connect with the environment, they will be able to understand the unique powers of nature, thus becoming better stewards of the environment in general, ensuring the future generations get an opportunity as well.
Importantly, the Van den Berg study discovered that certain disorders such as ADHD resulted from the disconnection from nature. Most of the children found to suffer from this disorder do not have an opportunity to explore what the real world has to offer. Once exposed to the natural world, children suffering from this disorder are found to respond positively, as the natural environment has great therapeutic power (Van den Berg & Van den Berg, 2011). On the other hand, while being exposed to man-made environments the results were discouraging. The team wanted to discover the mechanics of cognitive and emotional functioning that results from exposure to the natural world.
The study that was conducted by Brockman was intended to determine some of the factors that influence children by frequently exposing them to active play and physical activities. Similarly, the research also aimed at researching whether some of the determinants which play a crucial part in increasing the frequency of these activities. Despite the fact that various physical activities have long term health benefits such as reducing body mass and regulating blood pressure and insulin levels, many children do not engage in these activities due to certain factors. Notably, 28 males and 49 females from four different schools in Bristol, aged 10 to 11 years were considered in the research (Brockman et al, 2011). These children were chosen from different schools in order to represent the social economic diversity of that particular area. Firstly, a group of students were involved in a research whereby they were supposed to fill in a certain consent form before the whole activity; several students who brought in a signed consent form were to be involved in the research.
Then, focus groups were used as a way of collecting information from the students. In this manner, students were randomly picked from both boys and girls, after which they were supposed to answer certain questions as a group. Focus groups were considered because they create a good atmosphere where every student feels free to participate in giving their view on a topic. This information was recorded for analysis. During group sessions that lasted for about 30 minutes, certain topics related to some physical activities were raised whereby the students were allowed to participate and air their opinion (Brockman et al, 2011). Importantly, the questions revolved around some of the things that motivate these children to engage in active exertion, and some of the things that hinder them from engaging in such activity. The coordinators created a good environment by making the children feel comfortable, additionally, they also stressed on the importance of honesty, to ensure the answers were not biased.
Afterwards, the recorded information was analyzed and the themes revealed, after which the information was discussed by the coordinators. This was to ensure that the information is correct and matches with what had been collected initially. A total of 77 participants divided into 11 groups were involved in these focus groups in order to ensure the attainment of a conclusion based on facts (Brockman et al, 2011). Notably, socializing was one of the factors that motivate these children to engage in active and physical activities. The fact that these children can meet with their friends on the field motivated them to participate regularly in some of these activities. It was made equally clear that active play prevents boredom, motivating them to engage in active play, particularly for females. They claimed that some of the active playing kept them busy and engaged, leaving no room for boredom, rather than just sitting in a room watching a television.
Surprisingly, the boys recognized some of the health benefits that come along with active playing. They claimed that they feel happy and relaxed while taking part in these games, and the fact that they help them keep fit keep them going (Brockman et al, 2011). Finally, many children reported that engaging in active plays gave them a sense of freedom and enabled them to escape from the structured activities that they are used to. This was one of the major factors that motivated these children as it is one way to get away from adult control, seeing that it is up to them to come up with games, something that gave them a sense of responsibility.
However, there are factors that limit their exposure to active play. Parental constraints were one of the major factors upon which children agreed on. Their parents have certain rules concerning their outdoor activities (Brockman et al, 2011). Some of these rules results from social fears and insecurity. Parents try to regulate their children’s outdoor activities in the fear that they are playing with strangers, people whom they do not know. Similarly, things like weather and traffic limits their ability to engage in some of these games. Certain things such as the availability of technology and playing grounds facilitated these games in the sense that their parents felt secure once they can reach out to their children through mobile phones, enquiring whether they are okay.
Further research conducted by Christian focused on determining the effects of the physical environment on development of children. Children aged 0 to 7 years were involved in the research study, with much information being obtained from articles that generally contained information from Europe, Australia and USA (Christian et al, 2015). With the ongoing research, green spaces has always been associated with high rate of physical activities. This way, children living in an area whereby they are exposed to an open space with grass and trees are found to have a low body mass index as compared to those who are not exposed to such. This can be explained by the fact that these children are exposed to various active games that help them keep fit (Christian et al, 2015). In order to grow up fitter, natural spaces was first identified to be a critical factor
Both direct and indirect observation was used when assessing the behaviors of these children over a given period of time, using diaries. Questionnaires were issued to their parents who were supposed to answer the questions concerning their children’s engagement in active games (Christian et al, 2015). Further they were expected to answer to what extent their children enjoy some of these active games, after which the information was recorded on a binary outcome. Importantly, parents were also asked to indicate the amount of time their children watch television. This was to test whether children who are exposed to natural spaces are highly involved in physical activities. Descriptive statistics were used in order to show the relationship between natural spaces and physical activities (Christian et al, 2015). The rate at which girls engaged in some of these activities reduced as they grew up as compared to boys.
The results indicated that the kind of environment that children are exposed to greatly affect their growth, as it determines some of the activities they were involved in. In certain situations, parents found themselves controlling their children on some of the activities they engaged in, due to insecurity or the fact that they were associating with strangers. According to this research, there is a correlation between the availability of a good setting which ensures safety and improvements in the rate at which the children are engaged.
The third research project conducted by Trent Brown was mainly focused on determining some of the mental and physical benefits of active play. Most young people are found to be disconnected from nature as they are not in a position to connect with the real environment. School children aged 8 to 13 years were involved in the research project whereby they were interviewed on how they felt after engaging in outdoor activities (Trent-Brown et al, 2011). Notably, a total of Fifty children were involved, both girls and boys who were grouped into groups of ten. A conducive environment was created to ensure they are free to express what they feel like. Several questions were asked on how they felt after being involved in active playing. Children’s behaviors were also observed both in a synthetic and a natural environment in order to identify the difference.
Similarly, results from previous research was also used so as to come up with a well-informed conclusion. Afterwards, the available information was analyzed and reviewed so as to identify some of the differences among children’s mental and physical health identifiers. According to the results, children who were involved in outdoor activities and had enough time to connect with the environment appeared to be happy (Trent-Brown et al, 2011). They were able to associate well with other people as they were able to understand their fellows better. Additionally, they were observed to have good health and fewer cases of obesity as they were actively involved in outdoor activities (Trent-Brown et al, 2011). However, this was not the case with those who were not exposed to the natural environment. They were found to not socialize well with others. Cases of obesity were also high due to a lack of physical activity.
The fourth study conducted by Van den Berg focus on finding out how children suffering from ADHD reacted to a natural environment as compared to a man-made environment. They aimed at looking into the cognitive, behavioral and emotional functioning of these kids while exposing them to both types of environment. Notably, the research was conducted at two firms which cater to children with ADHD. This way, 12 children aged 9 to 17 years were involved in undertaking certain activities (Van den Berg & Van den Berg, 2011). One of the firm (called X for the duration of this article) is a large one with while the other named Y is a relatively smaller one. During the study these children were expected to visit two fields, one of which was a synthetic environment and the other being a natural environment.
The artificial environment was a nearby city while the natural environment constituted of a wooded area. They were divided into two groups, the first one visiting the natural environment in the morning and later the artificial environment for two consecutive days a week with the other group undergoing a similar opposite schedule (Van den Berg & Van den Berg, 2011). While in the two settings, they were involved in different activities, depending on what was favorable in that area. While undertaking these activities, observations were made and recorded. Several questions were also asked after the activity, by means of which they were given a chance to talk about how they felt and what they experienced. Later, an individual interview was conducted in an attempt to observe any differences in their cognitive functioning.
Due to these children having a limited attention span, general questions were asked aloud while playing, offering them a few options to answer with. In addition, constant observation was also one of the methods used to gather information. This way, a checklist was used to confirm certain behaviors among the children while exposed to different settings. Moreover, they were asked to describe their mood at the end of the session through a smiley test (Van den Berg & Van den Berg, 2011). Afterwards, their concentration span was tested, whereby each child was asked to read aloud some numbers as quickly as possible.
According to the results, children from firm X showed positive behaviors as they showed a high level of concentration and participated well in the various activities they were given. Additionally, they cooperated and answered various questions in the natural environment, unlike in the artificial environment, where they were aggressive and not ready to answer any question (Van den Berg & Van den Berg, 2011). While in the artificial environment, they kept on complaining, asking when they are going to leave the place. Interestingly, children from the second firm showed positive behavior both in the woods and in the artificial environment. They demonstrated positively in some of the activities they were involved in both in town and in the woods, cooperating and answering questions.
Overall, certain determinants have been found to contribute either positively or negatively on how young people engage in physical activities. The fact that they believe engaging will reduce boredom and that they will have some free time to play with individuals their own age motivated them to take part. Similarly, children feel a sense of freedom once they are given an opportunity to participate in outdoor activities, where they are supposed to decide how the game will be played. Physical environments also have great impact on a child’s development, as discussed in the research. Once the children are exposed to a setting whereby they can engage in some activities, they are able to grow physically and mentally. According to the research conducted, most of the children who are exposed to a natural space are found to be healthy, with fewer cases of disorders related to inactivity.
Additionally, exposing young girls and boys to a natural environment is believed to have some mental and physical benefits. Due to this, parents should ensure that their children are in a position to actively engage in some kind of active play to ensure they have an opportunity to connect with the real world. In this manner, they will experience fewer cases of stress associated disorders and obesity. As if that is not enough, they will have a good social life as they will be able to interact with their fellow colleagues properly, ensuring a peaceful life. Indeed, in reference to the research conducted among the children suffering ADHD, children were found to respond positively in a natural environment as compared in an artificial environment. This might be due to the fact that the natural environment has a therapeutic effect that enables them to concentrate and socialize with others. With this acquired knowledge one can create awareness among parents and caregivers so as to ensure they are able to take the right steps, making wise decisions on which activities their children should engage in.
Please use “Every Kid in a Park initiative” as the policy for this paper and relate this policy with the content in the paper. Please be sure to answer the question below.
Please use this organization as a reference: http://www.childrenandnature.org/act/policy-advocacy/
Proposed ECFS 402 topic (general/ broad):
Proposed ECFS 402 policy issue/ question:
How are your topic and policy issue/ question related?
How is your 402-policy issue/ question related to early childhood and family studies?
How is your 402-policy issue/ question related to social and/ or health policy?
Which Federal or Washington State policies or public programs are associated with your policy issue/ question? Explain for each.
Wisdom of Practice Perspective
Please find these answers in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrDIbt80Ve8
Interview this person, ideally in person, or if necessary, by email or phone. Here are some suggested questions related to your topic:
In the research I have done on [topic], I learned some ideas that we feel pretty certain about (think of at least 3); what is your perspective on these ideas?
In the research I have done on [topic], I also became aware of a number of issues and challenges. How might you describe issues and challenges you notice while working with children and families related to [topic], and what have been some of the strategies you have tried for addressing them?
What have you learned about this topic from your work with children and families?
If someone were to ask you about why this [topic] is important, what would you say to him/her? What is it you think the public should know about this [topic]?
If you could choose one question to find answers for on this topic, what would it be?
What advice would you give someone who is interested in this topic from a ‘wisdom of practice’ perspective?
Please write this paragraph as you “interview” Richard Louv.
Christian, H., Zubrick, S. R., Foster, S., Giles-Corti, B., Bull, F., Wood, L., … & Boruff, B. (2015). The influence of the neighborhood physical environment on early child health and development: A review and call for research. Health & place, 33, 25-36.
Brockman, R., Jago, R., & Fox K. (2011). Children’s active play: Self-reported motivators, barriers and facilitators. BMC Public Health, 11(1), 461.
Trent-Brown, S. A., Vanderveen, J. D., Cotter, R., Hawkins, K., Schab, A., Dykstra, S., et al. (2011). Effects of a nature-based science enrichment program on preschool children’s health, activity preferences, self-efficacy, and cognition: Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawareenway.
Van den Berg, A. E., & Van den Berg, C. G. (2011). A comparison of children with ADHD in a natural and built setting. Child: Care, Health and Development, 37(3), 430-439
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