Taylor and Butts-Wilmsmeyer studied kindergarten students’ ability to self-regulate their behavior after spending class time in green schoolyards. The researchers found via data collected at several schools that “girls in classes engaging in curriculum in greenspaces daily [for a minimum of 30 or 60 minutes, depending on the season] scored higher on measures of self-regulation post-intervention, controlling for baseline scores, than did girls engaging at a low frequency [once weekly for 60 minutes or less]. Furthermore, students who spent more minutes in greenspaces weekly tended to score higher post-intervention, although this relationship was more consistent for girls than boys. Results suggest that green schoolyards support children's self-regulation development, and the higher the frequency of visits, and the more minutes weekly, the greater the gains. . . . behavioral self-regulation is broadly defined as including ‘both top-down planning processes (e.g., executive functions or EF) and bottom-up regulation of more reactive impulses’ (McClelland et al., 2014, p. 2). EF includes attentional or cognitive flexibility, working memory, and inhibitory control (McClelland et al., 2014).” The researchers report that self-regulation as a young child has been tied to later-in-life academic success and wellbeing.
Andrea Taylor and Carrie Butts-Wilmsmeyer. “Self-Regulation Gains in Kindergarten Related to Frequency of Green Schoolyard Use.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2020.101440