Greenspaces can help give our children the best start in life

Contributing to the Scottish Government Outcome:

Play is an essential part of every child’s life. It is vital for the enjoyment of childhood as well as for social, emotional, intellectual and physical development. When children are asked about what they think is important in their lives, playing and friends are usually at the top of the list.

Greenspaces provide free, accessible, safe and exciting spaces for play and a range of informal and formal learning. They give children the space to play together and develop the skills and confidence in complex social interactions which form the basis for a successful adult life.

Research shows the positive impacts that quality greenspace has for children and young people, including:

  • improving children’s ability to cope with life stresses
  • improving concentration levels
  • developing positive attitudes to nature and the outdoors

Studies from the USA show:

  • young children (4-7 years) are more physically active if there are more parks in their home neighbourhood
  • children who felt that access to neighbourhood parks was poor, walked and cycled less than other children

Children’s play not only supports their physical health but also their mental and emotional wellbeing. It develops their cognitive, imaginative and social skills, and their natural desire to explore, experiment and understand.

But parental fears and too much poor quality greenspace mean that many children no longer play outside.

The Natural Childhood report found that fewer than 10% of children played in wild places compared with 40% of adults when they were young, and studies show that children's "roaming radius" from home has shrunk by 90% in 30 years.

A survey by the Children's Society found that whilst two-thirds of children said they liked to play outside daily, 80% said they had been told off for doing so and 1 in 3 said this stops them playing outdoors.

Contributing to UN Sustainable Development Goals: