As the old saying goes, “the early bird gets the worm.” But according to new research, it may be more accurate to say that “the early bird gets the neural circuitry.” A study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience found that compared to city-dwelling children, those who grow up in more rural areas have better-developed neural circuitry in regions of the brain associated with attention and sensory processing.

children playing in nature and climbing a tree

The study provides some clues as to how nature may be beneficial to the developing brain. Using a type of brain imaging called diffusion tensor imaging, the researchers looked at the structure of the brain’s white matter in a group of children. White matter is made up of nerve fibers that connect different regions of the brain and play an important role in cognition and sensory processing.

The researchers found that compared to the city-dwelling children, the rural kids who had exposure to nature had a more mature white matter in several regions of the brain, including the prefrontal cortex, which is associated with attention, and the thalamus, which is involved in sensory processing. These findings suggest that growing up in a natural environment is associated with more mature neural circuitry in regions of the brain that are important for attention and sensory processing.

Several other researchers have shown that the time spent in nature results in better mental and physical health and that it can have a positive effect on a child’s cognitive development, including their ability to pay attention, to self-regulate their emotions, and think creatively.

child smiling in nature holding a tree

One of the most important ways that nature affects a child’s cognitive development is by providing them with opportunities to engage in what is known as “exploratory play.” This type of play is essential for a child‘s cognitive development as it allows them to test out new ideas, experiment with different ways of doing things, and learn about cause and effect.

It is not just the opportunity to play in nature that is important for a child‘s cognitive development, but also the opportunity to simply spend time in nature, observing and taking in all the sights, sounds, and smells. This type of sensory experience is critical for a young child‘s brain development and has been shown to improve attention span, concentration, and memory.

Another theory explains that being in nature provides us with a sense of awe and wonder, which can help to put our problems into perspective. Many have shown that spending time in nature can help to decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Additionally, the time spent in nature provides a much-needed break from the overstimulation of the modern world.

Furthermore, scientists and researchers have found that children with ADHD who spent time in nature had improved attention spans and were better able to focus. In today‘s world, it‘s more important than ever to have a sharp memory and to be able to focus and pay attention. Luckily, spending time in nature can help with both of these things.

Numerous studies have shown that being in nature promotes the psychological development of children. Nature has been shown to boost happiness and relaxation levels and reduce anxiety. Children who spend time in nature are more likely to report feeling happy and peaceful. Nature can also help to improve a child’s self-esteem and sense of accomplishment.

While scientific research on such topics is always ON and requires an investment of thousands of dollars, it is much easier to experience the profound effect of nature with a little bit of attention and observation. It’s long been known and observed that nature can have a calming effect on the mind.

Humans have an innate connection to nature. We are born of the earth and our bodies are made up of the same elements as the rocks, the trees, and the oceans. We are constantly interacting with nature, even if we don’t realize it. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat – all of it comes from nature. Unfortunately, many children today do not have opportunities to explore and play in nature as much as they should, due to the increasingly sedentary lifestyle of modern society.

There are many ways to incorporate nature into a childs life. Some ideas include spending time outdoors in parks or gardens, going for nature walks, or even having a pet. It is important to encourage children to spend time in nature regularly, as the benefits are longlasting.

a kid and father playing on a beach

What many of us don’t realize is that nature can also be a great source of inspiration. There is something about being in nature that can help to clear your mind and give you a new perspective on things. Maybe it’s the fresh air or the sound of the waves crashing against the shore. Whatever it is, there is no denying that nature can be a powerful force for good in our lives.

So, the next time you are looking for ways to promote your child’s brain development, don’t forget the power of nature! There are many ways to incorporate nature into your child’s life: Encourage outdoor play, gardening, visiting local farms, camping, hiking, stargazing, bird feeding, tree plantation, and the list goes on! In essence, spend time outside with your child just taking in the beauty of the natural world around us.