Contact with nature and executive functions: A pilot study with Spanish preschoolers
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Keywords:Executive functions, Self-regulation, Working memory, Nature contact, Preschoolers
In the last decades, studies have suggested that contact with nature might impact positively on children’s Executive Functions (EF), although results are not consistent across studies. The present research aimed to explore a set of contextual factors (family socioeconomic status, residential area, and contact with nature) and their relations with preschoolers’ EF. Specifically, the research proposed to examine whether there were differences in preschoolers’ EF between rural/urban environments, to analyze the relation between exposure to natural surroundings and EF, and the potential interaction between contact with nature and family socioeconomic status in explaining children’s EF. A total of 56 preschoolers (30 boys, 26 girls) aged 4-6 years (M = 4.86, SD = .82) participated in the study. Families reported children’s contact with nature and EF through validated questionnaires. Results suggested that rural/urban environments were not related to children’s EF, but preschoolers who had more contact with nature exhibited higher Working memory skills. Moreover, mothers’ lower education was related to more difficulties in preschoolers’ Working memory when they have less contact with nature, but spending more time in natural surroundings seems to buffer that negative relation between lower maternal education and children’s EF. These preliminary findings highlight the relevance of the exposure and contact with nature for early childhood years.
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