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As parents, we are always on the lookout for ways to raise smart, happy and brainy children. In today’s competitive world, intelligence plays a key role in ensuring success, and intelligence is something that develops right from babyhood. You may already be encouraging your little one to read and play with toys to sharpen his brain. But according to new research, there is another amazing thing you can do to boost intelligence in kids!
The research was conducted by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) in Spain. They studied data from 1500 children to understand the factors that may affect their brain development.
The Amazing Thing that Affects your Child’s Brain Development – Green Spaces & Parks!
Yes! The study found that children who grow up close to parks and green spaces are likelier to develop better attention span – a crucial skill that decides their overall development and school performance too. These kids tend to do better at attention tests and have enhanced cognitive development.
The study confirms findings from previous studies that indicated that children benefit from green spaces in schools. Children who had more vegetation around their schools showed better progress in working memory and attention. This means, if your child’s school and the surrounding area have green spaces and parks, this is likely to affect their cognitive development positively.
What’s the Connection Between Green Spaces & Brain Development?
According to the researchers, here is why exposure to green spaces tends to make children smarter:
More Physical Activity
When children live near green spaces, their daily physical activity tends to go up due to visits to the park, playing on the swings, outdoor sports, etc. The benefits of outdoor play on children’s development are many, including keeping the body fit and the mind more active. This is a much healthier way of spending leisure time as opposed to screens which might even dull brain development upon over-exposure
Promote Social Connections
Children often make their first friends at the park. Living near parks boost their socio-emotional development as they learn to communicate and get along with other people. This helps builds EQ (emotional quotient) in the long run
Reduce Exposure to Air Pollution and Noise
City life in India is getting increasingly affected by air pollution and noise. Recently, many schools in New Delhi had to remain shut to protect kids from the unsafe levels of air pollution. Living near green spaces protects kids from both air pollution and noise pollution which improves their overall quality of life, health, and ability to concentrate. The importance of nature in child development is immense
The study confirmed that the above three factors are essential for the development of the future generations’ brains.
Other Benefits of Spending Time in Green Spaces
Aside from brain boosting, here are a few more benefits your kids can reap from their visits to the park:
- Makes kids less aggressive – an interesting study on adolescent psychiatry has linked spending time in greenery to less aggressive behaviour!
- Helps protect kids from asthma and other respiratory problems
- Makes symptoms of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) milder
- Increases levels of Vitamin D, which is helpful in fighting infections
- Helps children sleep better
- Develops early interest in outdoor play and team sports
- Protects children from the ill-effects of too much screen time
Our Mommy Blogger Prerna shared an incident that showed her how important outdoor play for kids was: “Once we went to visit a friend and there were about six kids in a room along with my two, and all kids including my four year old was on either a tablet or a smartphone, and no one was talking to each other. I can’t tell you how appalling the sight was, all of us instantly realised our mistake!”
Key takeaway: From staying fit to learning about the world to improved cognitive skills, check out the excellent lessons nature has for children.
Parents Benefit from Green Spaces Too!
The fascinating thing is that it’s not just children who benefit from living in proximity to parks; parents do too. According to a study published in the Ecological Society of America, city parks play a huge role in maintaining the health and happiness of the people. Parents need to deal with a lot of stress every day, and spending time in green spaces can be therapeutic for psychological, physical, and spiritual well-being. Not just that, some studies indicate that communing with nature can even lead to longer lives, especially in women!
Brain-Boosting Tips for Children
We bet this got you excited to let your child benefit from the wonderful effects of green spaces and parks. It is such a simple yet effective way to lay the foundation for improved attention and intelligence. However, what if you do not live close to a park? Many of us live in high-rise apartments or areas without any greenery. Here are a few quick things you can do:
- Encourage your children to take up eco-friendly project ideas such as visiting a farm or stargazing. This will spark their interest in the world around them
- Consider planting some trees and shrubs in your surrounding area, or start a small garden in your balcony or backyard
- Go on holidays and weekend getaways to areas with lots of green spaces
- Decorate your home in a nature-theme, using greens, natural fragrances, flowers, etc.
- Arrange playdates and take the children to meet friends who live in homes surrounded by green areas
- Speak to your children’s school authorities to arrange green spaces in and around the school compound. You can also volunteer for nature workshops, nature walks, gardening activities, etc.
- Encourage your child to take an interest in nature by pointing out different types of birds, insects, plants, etc. This will up his desire to go outdoors and explore for himself
So, what are you waiting for? Time to go out under the sun with your children, explore the beautiful world of nature, and watch your little ones get smarter each day!