International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Author ORCID Identifier
Amber L. Pearson https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8848-1798
Natalie Nicholls https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0745-7065
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Exposure to nature views has been associated with diverse mental health and cognitive capacity benefits. Yet, much of this evidence was derived in adult samples and typically only involves residential views of nature. Findings from studies with children suggest that when more greenness is available at home or school, children have higher academic performance and have expedited attention restoration, although most studies utilize coarse or subjective assessments of exposure to nature and largely neglect investigation among young children. Here, we investigated associations between objectively measured visible nature at school and children's behavior problems (attention and externalizing behaviors using the Brief Problem Monitor Parent Form) in a sample of 86 children aged seven to nine years old from 15 classrooms across three schools. Images of classroom windows were used to quantify overall nature views and views of specific nature types (sky, grass, tree, shrub). We fitted separate Tobit regression models to test associations between classroom nature views and attention and externalizing behaviors, accounting for age, sex, race/ethnicity, residential deprivation scores, and residential nature views (using Google Street View imagery). We found that higher levels of visible nature from classroom windows were associated with lower externalizing behavior problem scores, after confounder adjustment. This relationship was consistent for visible trees, but not other nature types. No significant associations were detected for attention problems. This initial study suggests that classroom-based exposure to visible nature, particularly trees, could benefit children's mental health, with implications for landscape and school design.
Pearson, A.L.; Brown, C.D.; Reuben, A.; Nicholls, N.; Pfeiffer, K.A.; Clevenger, K.A. Elementary Classroom Views of Nature Are Associated with Lower Child Externalizing Behavior Problems. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20, 5653. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20095653