To provide children more opportunities to interact with nature, an increasing number of schools are ‘greening’ their schoolyards by including abiotic and biotic elements such as vegetation, sand, water, logs, and stones. Although the value of these green, nature-rich schoolyards is increasingly acknowledged, research has focused on a narrow set of child development outcomes. This paper presents a conceptual framework that gives insight into the potential short- and long-term benefits of green schoolyards related to children’s physical, cognitive, social-emotional, and moral development, and the pathways through which they may occur. We argue that a green schoolyard can facilitate diverse behaviors and activities, provide sensory and embodied nature experiences, provide a restorative environment, support biodiversity, and provide a resilient environment that supports climate resilience and mitigates environmental nuisance. These five functions of green schoolyards can act as pathways to help foster healthy child development. In doing so, the framework provides guidance for future research. Although more research is needed to validate the conceptual framework, it seems that through the proposed pathways, green schoolyards can be a promising nature-based intervention to promote healthy child development.
- green space
- outdoor classroom